PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — New polling shows most Virginians support teaching how racism continues to impact American society today and oppose bans on critical race theory, particularly Black Virginians.

That topic was one of many Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center asked Virginians about in their new “State of the Commonwealth” report, which also asked about COVID vaccine and mask requirements, an effort to put police officers in every K-12 school, proposed abortion restrictions and tax cut proposals from Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

701 registered voters in Virginia were interviewed from Jan. 26-Feb. 15, 2022, for the poll.

57% oppose/strongly oppose Youngkin’s moves to ban the teaching of critical race theory, with 33% supporting/strongly supporting a ban. The college-level study on systemic racism isn’t specifically taught in Virginia schools, but “CRT” has been adapted as a catch-all term in a broad effort to push back against the teaching of race in America and other discussions sparked after the police murder of George Floyd.

Some on the right, including Youngkin and other Virginia politicians, have falsely said that critical race theory promotes that one race is superior to another, and that it seeks to instill guilt in white students.

“[Critical race theory] has nothing to do with sentiment, guilt or shame,” Daniel HoSang, a professor of ethnicity, race and migration and American studies at Yale University, told the Texas Tribune. “In fact, one of its premises is that those are not actually helpful places to examine. It’s taking us out of racism as a psychological and emotional question, and is focusing much more on the structures, the policies that people create that govern our lives.”

73% of Black voters and 53% of white voters oppose a ban on CRT, and 19% of Black voters and 42% of white voters support a ban.

Meanwhile on a broader level, 63% of Virginians support/strongly support “teaching how racism continues to impact American society today.”

The divide is mostly along party lines, though only 63% of Republicans support/strongly support a ban, compared to 82% of Democrats opposing/strongly opposing one.

The topic was one of many detailed in the report. Here are some other main topics:

Abortion

58% of Virginians oppose/strongly oppose a 6-week, Texas-style abortion ban, compared to 33% that support/strongly support. 57% also oppose an ultrasound requirement, compared to just 33% in favor.

COVID vaccination/mask requirements

A majority of Virginians are in support of vaccination requirements people in jail or prison (57%), first responders (58%), members of the U.S. military (58%), teachers (57%), medical providers (61%), and
members of Congress (56%), though it’s about split for college students (50% yes to 48% no), federal government employees (50% yes to 48% no), organizations/businesses with federal government contracts (48% yes to 50% no), state government employees (50% yes to 48% no), and high school students (49% yes to 49% no).

It’s 47% yes to 51% no for middle school student vaccination requirements and 42% yes to 55% no for elementary students.

A majority of Virginia voters also say school masking requirements should be determined by health data and information from health experts (56%) vs. leaving the decision for parents (41%).

Climate change

A majority of Virginia voters say climate change should be either a top priority (34%) or a medium priority (32%) for the governor and General Assembly.

67% of Virginians oppose Youngkin’s proposal to repeal the Virginia Clean Economy Act, passed in 2020, that would require electric utilities in the state to produce 100% of their energy from renewable resources by 2050. 67% also oppose Youngkin’s proposal to pull Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a carbon cap and-trade program with other states to reduce carbon pollution.

Police in public schools

A large majority of Virginians support Youngkin’s plan to put a police or resource officer in every Virginia public school (70% support/strongly support to 25% oppose/strongly oppose). The bill is sponsored by Hampton Roads Del. Karen Greenhalgh (R-Virginia Beach).

Taxes

A majority of Virginians want to spend Virginia’s historic surplus on underfunded government services, such as education, public safety and social services (59%), and 38% want it to go back to Virginians in the form of tax cuts or rebates. Youngkin has proposed $300 rebates for Virginians.

47% of Virginia voters support a Youngkin’s plan to fully repeal Virginia’s 2.5% grocery tax. 25% support
granting a tax credit for low-income residents to offset the grocery tax and 24% say the grocery tax should remain as it is.

Overall state of Virginia/country

45% of Virginians say the commonwealth is heading in the right direction, while 41% say it’s headed in the wrong direction. Youngkin currently has a 41% approval rating, per CNU’s poll, with 43% indicating disapproval and 16% saying they don’t know.

Again that’s largely on party lines.

On the national level, only 22% of Virginia registered voters say the United States is headed in the right direction. Meanwhile President Biden has a 40% approval rating, after a 57% rating a year ago.