Parents in one Massachusetts town are expressing outrage over an explicit sex survey being administered to sixth-graders without disclosing the questions to moms and dads.
Parents in Shrewsbury are upset that the local school committee is refusing to reveal the content of its version of the Centers for Disease Control's “Youth Risk Behavior Study.” The 22-page YRBS on the CDC website [PDF] contains 87 questions, seven of which deal with sexual behavior. The survey solicits answers to such questions as “How old were you when you had sexual intercourse for the first time?” and “The last time you had sexual intercourse, did you or your partner use a condom?”
The school committee in Shrewsbury will not allow parents to view copies of the survey because they feel parents will “misinterpret” the questions. However, parent David Fisher says unbelievably, there is no concern that sixth-graders will misinterpret the questions and he contends the questions go even further.
“In the 6th grade these are children 11 or 12 years old they are being asked if they have ever engaged in oral sex, when was the first time that they engaged in oral sex, with how many different people have they engaged in oral sex,” Fisher says. “And they ask the same three questions about sexual intercourse, and whether or not they've used a condom, amongst other things.” A word search of the online version of the CDC survey, however, turns up no mention of oral sex.
Still, Fisher who has an 11-year-old daughter in the school system says there is a great deal of anger among parents in his neighborhood and across the town.
“First, [because] of the contents of the survey and then secondly, [because] we have been purposely kept in the dark and [are being] made to feel as though we're backward, we're ignorant, [and] we would misinterpret these questions,” the Massachusetts father remarks. “The problem is, we interpret them correctly. It's the school department that is misinterpreting these questions [and] seeing nothing wrong with them.”
According to Fisher, a sex survey being administered to Shrewsbury eighth-graders asks students to identify themselves as heterosexual, “gay or lesbian,” or bisexual.
Current state law in Massachusetts allows parents to opt their children out of programs that involve human sexuality, but Fisher and other parents are fighting for a bill now in the State House that would change the opt-out policy into an opt-in policy.