A parent group in Fairfax County, Va., Wants the school district to end an annual survey of the sexual habits of eighth, tenth and twelfth graders.
Fairfax students have been involved in the survey for years, but the scrutiny of Northern Virginia public schools in recent months has refocused attention on the study of sex.
“If you ask adults these questions in the workplace, you could be sued,” said Elizabeth Schultz, a former Fairfax County School Board member, who said she had fought for years for the survey to be at least enabled for students rather than the current option. -outside.
“Why the lustful nature of these? ” she said. “It’s totally anti-family and scary and most parents have no idea what’s going on.”
The 16-page, 173-question survey – along with a less sexually explicit version given to sixth-graders – was due to be administered this month, according to a county spokesperson who insisted that his statement be quoted from anonymously.
The county said all responses are anonymous.
The 2021 full quiz – which students can choose to skip or decline – wastes no time getting personal.
“Some people describe themselves as transgender when their sex at birth does not match how they think or feel their gender,” begins question # 4. “Are you transgender? “
Other questions include asking if a possible crime had ever been committed against the student, such as asking if he had ever been forced to have sex. And there are questions about oral sex.
“11-year-olds in Fairfax County public schools are asked, ‘How many times have you done this… in the past 3 months? “Wrote Elizabeth McCauley, who called herself” a concerned mother and Fairfax County taxpayer. ” In a letter to the editor of the Fairfax County Times this month.
Ms McCauley said her letter, titled ‘Stop Sexualizing Our Children,’ was a cry for the county to end a practice it has followed every year since 2009, with the exception of last year during the pandemic. of COVID-19.
“I was absolutely horrified,” Ms. McCauley told the Washington Times. “They’re in school to learn, and I was appalled at the questions they wouldn’t even ask adults.”
The survey was designed to help county officials better deal with potentially health-hazardous situations in schools, according to a spokesperson.
“The Fairfax County Youth Survey is a voluntary, anonymous and comprehensive survey that examines the risks, protective factors and health behaviors that influence the health and well-being of our county’s youth,” said the spokesperson. in a statement to The Times.
“The questions for the current survey were selected from nationally recognized surveys that follow rigorous testing and validation procedures,” he said. “The survey is an important tool for assessing the needs and strengths of young people, developing programs, monitoring trends, measuring county-wide outcomes, and guiding the planning of county-wide prevention efforts. “
The latest controversy in Fairfax County comes as parents in school districts across the country have raised alarm over what they see as an inappropriate and left-wing drift in K-12 public education.
Concerned about closures and other health measures related to COVID-19 that they see as unnecessary and counterproductive, many parents have also objected to what they see as unnecessary emphasis in classrooms on race. , gender and sexuality – issues which they believe should be outside the bailiwick of public schools.
Schools in Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia have been the center of sometimes heated debate, and polls show parental frustration with schools was a major factor in Republican Glenn Youngkin’s surprising victory in the governor of Virginia earlier this month.
Student surveys similar to the Fairfax County study have seen a decline in other states.
In a Connecticut neighborhood around Easton, opponents of the poll this year were successful in shifting participation from opt-out to opt-in. The decision was seen as a victory for parents in a district where an ongoing feud between officials focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion and a group known as Save Our Town / Save Our continues. Schools led to the resignation of the principal.
It was especially telling in Connecticut that education professionals wanted to ask students questions they weren’t willing to ask faculty members, said Maureen Hanley, Save Our Town / Save Our Schools member. .
“We fought like hell to get some of the most sexualized issues removed,” Ms. Hanley said. “And you can tell our friends in Fairfax and other counties that if they don’t fight this with everything they have, then stuff like that will take over their children’s lives.”
Parts of the Fairfax County quiz are straightforward and no parent objected, including questions about “how many hours” students spend “an average school day” doing homework or participating. to extracurricular activities. The survey also looks at drug use and attitudes towards cheating.
But these sections are inseparable from those that are objectionable, according to nearly a dozen parents who spoke to The Times.
For example, in a section asking if a student has been “bullied, taunted, ridiculed or teased” by a “parent or adult in your household”, question 66 asks: “have you ever been physically forced to have sex when you do not want to? “
Meg Kilgannon, a Tory activist and mother of four who attended Fairfax schools, said she suspected the questions were designed largely to validate spending and expanding government programs.
In that sense, complaints from some parents in Fairfax County differ from those in other districts, where questions about privately designed and administered surveys have raised concerns that companies are using children to extract data.
“It’s a justification for more spending,” Ms. Kilganon said. “Is there another test they take that has 173 questions?” “
The Fairfax County Department of Health and Human Services publishes executive summaries and statistical breakdowns of the survey each year. In fact, surveys have shown a slight reduction in sexual activity admitted by FCPS students over the past few years.
Ms McCauley said the results are unreliable and questions with answers ranging from “NO !!” … No… yes… YES !! do not provide sound data.
But whatever the value of determining levels of drug use or alcohol or eating disorders among students, neither government officials nor private companies should ask eighth grade students such probing questions. grade or high school students, said Priscilla DeStafano.
Ms DeStefano, a Tory relative who lost her campaign for a seat on the Fairfax County School Board last year, cited inappropriate questions like No. 134 (“In your lifetime, how many people have you been with have you had sex? ”) and number 134. 135 (“ In the past 3 months, how many people have you had sex with? ”).
“I think it’s so intrusive, especially if they’re 13,” she said. “How many parents would willingly enroll their children in a survey like this? It sounds harmless, but why do schools need to know this? “