Student survey asking about sexual orientation causing controver - WNEM TV 5

Student survey asking about sexual orientation causing controversy

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A survey asking middle and high school students about their ethnicity and sexual orientation is causing controversy at a Mid-Michigan school district.

Students at Clio Area High School and Carter Middle School filled out the questionnaire asking about sexual behaviors and attitudes.

In a letter sent out on Oct. 28 to Clio school parents, the district said the Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) questionnaire was supposed to help the school improve learning and reduce expulsions, detentions and poor behavior choices.

The letter also said there were changes made in the format/questions of the survey unbeknownst to administrators, teachers or the School Board.

The district told parents funding for the PBIS training and data collection comes through a grant sponsored by the Genesee Intermediate School District.

The survey has since been pulled from the district and in the letter apologized for the “misstep."

"It's too early in the game in school for them," said Shaentia Edwards, parent of a Clio student.

Donna Schindal said pulling the questionnaire was not enough.

"They should come to me. We should be notified first with something like that. We should be the ones that bring this to our children's attention, not them," Schindal said.

The Clio Area Schools and the Genesee Intermediate School District released this joint statement:

Clio Area Schools and the Genesee Intermediate School District acknowledge and apologize for any distress that may have occurred as a result of the recent School Climate Survey that was sent to Clio Middle School and High School students. The GISD provides training and leadership for the Promoting Positive School Climate Project that helps districts develop and sustain positive behavioral intervention and supports while improving school climate for students, staff, and the school community.

As part of the grant, aggregated data is collected through a fully anonymous survey in an effort to provide schools with student and parent perceptions of school culture and climate, with the end goal of ensuring that all students feel safe and are supported in school.   

The Positive Behavior Support National Technical Assistance Center provides the documents used for the Promoting Positive School Climate Grant, including the School Climate Surveys for students. There are two separate surveys: one for elementary students and one for secondary students. This year’s secondary student survey includes a new demographic question about student gender preference as well as one on sexual orientation. For all questions, students have the option of selecting "I prefer not to answer."

Clio Middle School received the secondary student survey intended for students in grades 6-12. Unfortunately, Clio Middle School fifth grade students were administered the same secondary student survey. We acknowledge that these questions may be inappropriate for children as young as fifth grade.

The GISD will continue to ensure that participating districts are aware of the demographic questions that the PBIS National Technical Assistance Center has now included in this survey. Clio Area Schools has already reminded staff of existing Board of Education Guidelines regarding parent notification of such survey questions prior to administering any survey to students.

In addition, the GISD has ensured that any data collected from Clio Middle School students will be handled appropriately and not held in any data collection system. 

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