Parents in Boston are expressing outrage after a middle school issued a student survey that asks detailed questions about gender identity and sexual activity.
In an email to parents of students attending Boston’s Eliot K-8 Innovation School, principal Traci Griffith said she had received “many concerns” about the “Youth Risk Behavior Survey,” distributed to sixth and seventh-grade students.
The 54-question survey, which was anonymous and voluntary, was administered by Boston Public Schools and included questions about weight and exercise, suicide, drug use, bullying, sex, and transgenderism.
“A transgender person is someone who does not feel the same inside as the sex they were born with. Are you transgender?” asked one question near the beginning of the survey.
Other questions asked students if they have “seriously thought” about killing themselves, have ever taken diet pills to lose weight, or have “ever participated in oral sex.”
Principal Griffith noted that parents’ concerns about the survey, a portion of a project by Boston Public Schools, have been shared with the Office of Health and Wellness, the Superintendent’s Office, and the Office of Teaching and Learning.
On March 17, Jill Carter, the district’s Office of Health and Wellness executive director, maintained that families would have the opportunity to voice their issues and concerns during a virtual meeting this Thursday.
Parents say the survey blindsided them
The mother of a sixth-grade student, Deirdre Hall, told a news outlet that the survey was “entirely inappropriate” and said her daughter came home from school and told her about a “really weird survey” she had been given to complete.
According to Hall, “She said half her class didn’t even know what any of this stuff meant. Now they’re coming home and asking their parents and their friends, ‘What’s oral sex?’”
The survey elaborated that “Oral sex is when a person puts their mouth on another person’s genitals or private area,” before asking the students to choose from two responses, “no” or “yes.”
Additional questions asked students the frequency of their sexual activity, whether they believed they were transgender, their sexual orientation, and whether they use birth control. Alcohol and drug use were also part of the survey.
Another parent said she was “outraged” by the survey, which she says parents were not informed about.
“To go on field trips, the district has parents sign permission slips, but for the district to ask our children private explicit sexual questions, they are able to do so without consent?” she said. “This makes no sense.”
A database compiled by Parents Defending Education, a parents’ rights group, includes incidents of surveys that are similar from the District of Columbia and 37 states, according to Fox News.