Around New England

Fifth-Graders Asked About Experience With Sex, Their ‘Preferred Gender,’ and the Gender of Their Sex Partners

October 23, 2018

Some fifth-graders and sixth-graders in the town of Windsor, Vermont were given a survey asking whether they have engaged in sexual relations, what gender they identify with, and what gender their sexual partners identify with.

The survey was given to students by a nonprofit organization called WISE, of Lebanon, New Hampshire, which got the survey from the Preventions and Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, according to The Union Leader.

Vermont state law requires public schools to have a curriculum that promotes child sexual safety. The nonprofit organization that distributed the survey assists the school district with that curriculum and also tries to prevent gender-based violence, the superintendent of schools said. The survey was supposed to study how well the organization is doing, he said.

“Unfortunately, with respect to the survey, the administration was caught completely off-guard. The contents of the survey was never shared with the administration,” wrote David Baker, superintendent of the Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union, in a letter to parents.

Baker apologized to parents and called both the survey and the process for obtaining permission from parents unacceptable.

“The permission letter was far too vague and did not include the specific content of the survey. It also required only ‘opt-out’ permission, which in this case, was totally unacceptable,” Baker wrote. “Several questions on the survey were not appropriate for 5th and 6th graders. I say this as both father and superintendent. Parents should have been informed about the content and given the opportunity to ‘opt-in.’ Fortunately, we discovered the issue before it was more widely distributed. But sadly, some of our children did get the survey. We have since instructed WISE to cease and desist in the dissemination of this survey. We will be working to ensure something like this never happens again.”