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Parents group slams school survey asking students how often they have sex, if they're transgender

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Students sit in a high school classroom. |

A parent advocacy group is slamming the largest school district in Virginia for administering a voluntary survey that asks students personal questions about their sex lives. 

Fairfax County Public Schools, located just outside Washington, D.C., allows students in grades 8, 10 and 12 to participate in a “Youth Survey,” which includes a section probing the minors about their sex lives and gender identity.

Specifically, students are asked if they “ever had sexual intercourse,” how old they were when they “had sexual intercourse for the first time,” how many people they “had sexual intercourse” with in their lives and the past three months and if they used contraception or took drugs or alcohol before engaging in such activity.

The section asking students questions about their sexual behavior concludes with an inquiry about whether or not they had oral sex.

The survey also includes a question noting that “some people describe themselves as transgender when their sex at birth does not match the way they think or feel about their gender.” The survey asks the respondent if they identify as transgender.

Another question at the beginning of the survey asks students to identify their sexual orientation.

Fairfax County Public Schools cites the surveys as necessary for “determining the effectiveness of prevention and intervention programs.”

The county’s school board administers the surveys in conjunction with the board of supervisors, which described the purpose of the questionnaire as to “examine the risks, protective factors and health behaviors that influence the health and well-being of our county’s youth.”

Students are asked not to put their names on the surveys as the answers are confidential.

While the school district has defended the survey, a parents’ advocacy group contends that the questions are irrelevant to the school district’s educational mission.

The advocacy group Do Better FCPS was formed in response to the disapproval of the district’s actions during the coronavirus pandemic and seeks to increase its perceived lack of accountability, transparency, excellence in leadership and focus on high caliber education.

“How exactly does knowing how many sexual partners a student has improve your ability to educate?” the group asked in a Twitter post. 

Do Better FCPS founder Sue Zoldak elaborated on her concerns during an interview with local news outlet WJLA.

“Is it the school’s role to know whether our children are sexually active, how many partners they’ve had?” she asked. “How does that connect to a positive educational outcome?” 

In an Oct. 15 letter to parents, Superintendent of Schools Scott Brabrand explained that parents have the “right to preview the survey” and “deny permission for your child to participate.”

“If a student is uncomfortable with any question on the survey, the student does not have to answer that question or may elect to discontinue the survey,” Brabrand assured. 

Students whose parents deny permission for them to complete the survey will be given an alternative assignment to work on while the other students complete the survey electronically at some time during school hours between Nov. 15 and Nov. 30.

While students in sixth grade will also participate in a “Youth Survey,” they will fill out a shorter questionnaire that does not include questions about sexual activity and sexual orientation. 

In a statement, a Fairfax County spokesperson assured that the survey is voluntary and anonymous.

“The current survey questions were selected from nationally recognized surveys that follow rigorous testing and validation procedures,” the statement reads. “The survey is an important tool to assess youth needs and strengths, develop programs, monitor trends, measure countywide outcomes and guide countywide planning of prevention efforts.”

As 7News reports, Fairfax County is not the only school district in Virginia administering the survey as Prince William County Public Schools has also confirmed that it administers the survey. The Virginia Department of Health told the local news outlet that schools are randomly selected for participation. 

A Fairfax County spokesperson said the survey has been administered annually since 2009 but was not administered in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As Do Better FCPS stated in a tweet, Fairfax County has published the results of previous years’ survey by race to “every single question.”

The tweet was accompanied by a screenshot of a report illustrating the results of previous versions of the “Youth Survey” conducted from 2015 to 2019. The results were broken down by grade level, race and ethnicity and gender. 

The backlash surrounding the “Youth Survey” is not the first occasion that Fairfax County has received criticism from parents over prompts and material their children are exposed to in school. At a September school board meeting, an outraged parent read aloud and shared graphic images from material she likened to “child pornography,” which students have access to in the district’s libraries.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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