One Vermont mom lambasted her 10-year-old daughter’s elementary school recently when officials sent fifth-graders home with, what she deemed, a questionable survey that asked about her daughter’s gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual history.
According to Vanessa Beach, she never received notice from the school that allowed her daughter to opt-out of the study and was stunned to see the “ridiculous and unnerving” questions being posed to such young kids. Reportedly, a handful of students chose to abstain on their own accord while several had no problem answering the questions.
“I think about the kids that are struggling with their sexuality,” Beach said as she tried to explain why fifth graders are too young to answer certain questions. “Are they going to have to lie? Are they going to have to put themselves in a box today?”
Despite her objection to the survey, Beach did use the situation to start a dialogue with her daughter, ensuring the 10-year-old didn’t have questions she was hesitant to ask.
Zoe did a survey at school today and I am reading it and see this… now I don’t think sexuality is a dirty thing don’t…
The survey was administered by WISE, an advocacy group working against the tide of gender-based violence, and noted that by refusing to opt out, Beach tacitly gave “passive consent.” The organizations and school officials are standing by their decision to administer the survey, which was conducted in an effort to help the school further its violence prevention programs.
“What we know works in prevention is multiple-session programs that are age- and developmentally appropriate,” she said Jane Stapleton, a member of the team that distributed the survey. “This was not a survey we threw together. It was at least eight months in development.”
Stapleton also noted that the survey questions asked about general relationships, of which sexual relations are just one kind. As she put it, the questions were inquiring about “a range of behaviors” and “come from validated survey instruments that have been used nationally in middle schools.”