Published October 15, 2010
A Washington, D.C., middle school is under fire after distributing a survey to seventh-graders asking both boys and girls about their sexual orientations and whether they knew how to put on a condom, among other sex-based questions.
The survey, developed by Metro TeenAIDS, a group dedicated to helping young people fight against HIV/AIDS, was intended to raise awareness of sexually transmitted diseases and teach the children how to avoid them, MyFoxDC.com reported.
But some parents at Hardy Middle School complained that the questions crossed the line, sparking the principal to put the survey on hold, the Georgetown Dish reported.
The students were asked their genders -- whether male, female or transgender. And they were asked to identify themselves as straight, bisexual, gay or lesbian or "not sure."
Other questions included: How sure are you that you know the difference between oral, vaginal, and anal sex? Would know where to get condoms if/when you or a friend needed them? Can correctly put a condom on yourself or your partner?
The survey also asked about the student's history of sexual activity and what types of sex.
"Unfortunately, the opt-out letter to parents regarding this unit in the health class went home on the same day that the assessment was administered. As a result, there was not enough time to allow for parental response before the unit began," school officials said in a written statement.
“Raising awareness among students about HIV and AIDS is certainly an important and necessary task schools must carry out, and families have an important role to play in the planning and execution of the sex education curriculum," D.C. Mayor-elect Vincent Gray said in an e-mail to The Georgetown Dish. "I hope that the Hardy school leadership, parents, and contract providers can talk about these recent developments to ensure that no one is surprised in the future.”
Metro TeenAIDS says the survey questions are in line with D.C. standards, which outline the kind of information young people are supposed to get at certain ages, as well as national testing questions on the subject.
To parents who are concerned the survey revealed too much information for a 12-year-old, Metro TeenAIDS' executive director, Adam Tenner, told MyFoxDC.com that most of those 12-year-olds are much more experienced sexually than those parents might think.
“Our local data show that almost 23 percent of middle school students -- and this was in a 2009 survey -- said that they had already had sexual intercourse once,” he said. “We know that we have an STD epidemic that’s 16 times the national average, that our pregnancy rates are three times the national average … so what we know is that young people are sexually active and we need to work together parents, schools, all of us to make sure young people get the information and skills they need to protect themselves.”