Youth Sex Survey Draws Complaints

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Around the country, parents and conservative activists are incensed about a federal youth behavioral survey being given to schoolkids as young as 12 years old. The CDC’s “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” is not a new one, but it has come under scrutiny this year as parents realize the scope of the questions.

“It’s just so infuriating that we are being left in the dark about our children,” said Jennifer Smith of Nashville. “Our children are not guinea pigs. We did not sign a consent form saying they can collect our children’s data, that they can ask them these invasive questions.”

The survey was discussed Wednesday in the Massachusetts State House, and a group called MassResistance has condemned it for being “psychologically distorting.”

Students are not compelled to take the survey, but critics say that most have no particular reason to opt out. The pressure of being one of only a handful of kids not answering the questions is enough to ensure high participation rates. That’s troublesome for parents who think that it should not be up to the federal government to expose their kids to controversial topics at an early age.

Those topics are indeed highly personal. One of the questions asks the students if they identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or “other.” Another asks how many sexual partners they have taken in the last three months. There are questions on the survey asking if the student is transgender, whether they have ever had oral sex, and whether or not they have ever taken drugs such as OxyContin. The concern, according to MassResistance, is that some kids will feel as though they are “abnormal” if they haven’t done the things the survey is asking about.

According to the CDC, parental permission is required before a teacher administers the behavioral survey. But even if some of the parents complaining about the questionnaire gave permission, one can probably forgive the oversight. In a flood of paperwork coming home from the school, few parents have the time or the inclination to investigate every single communique. Parents have the right to expect a certain level of discretion on the part of the school administrators, if not the federal government.

Is this much ado about nothing? The CDC insists on their website that there is no evidence that exposing kids to the topics in the survey will encourage them to try those behaviors. They say the survey’s data is used to “set and track progress toward meeting school health and health promotion program goals” as well as to “support new legislation” and “seek funding and other support for new initiatives.”

But it is in those reasons that parents might have the most cause for concern. The answers provided by the survey – and who can really say whether or not students are answering honestly? – are used to further a liberal agenda aimed at more “progressive” health curricula. And anything that’s going to lead to more perversity and obscenity in our public schools should probably be opposed on principle.