Officials at an elementary school in Vermont have come under fire for administering a survey about gender identity, preference, and sexual history to fifth graders.
In an interview with NBC 5, parent Vanessa Beach said that her daughter Zoe brought the survey home and showed it to her. Beach said that her child was told not to show it to a parent but did so anyway.
Beach went on to read the questions on the document that her daughter brought home.
“Have you been in a romantic relationship? ” she read. “By romantic relationship we mean more than friends, like having a partner for planned events like a school dance, going to the movies or having a sexual partner?”
She added that other questions asked about gender identity and sexual preference.
According to NBC 5, Beach insisted that she had no concern about these issues being discussed with her child, but maintained that the wording of the questions was not suitable for kids in fifth grade.
“My daughter is 10. So are all the other kids who took this,” she said. “A sexual partner at 10 years old would be called sexual abuse,” she added.
The survey was conducted by an organization called WISE. A representative of the group said that the questions were created in collaboration with a research team from the University Of New Hampshire. The article on NBC 5’s website made no mention of the purpose of the research and how it will be used.
“I would want a child to be completely secure in who they are before having to fill this (survey) out and wondering if they did it right, or feeling ashamed of it in any way,” Beach said.
Students were reportedly told that filling out the survey was not mandatory but Beach says that she did not receive a notice from the school informing her of this. A researcher told NBC 5 that the survey was given to students despite the lack of explicit parental consent because Vermont allows “passive consent” rules to apply in situations like this.
That staff at the school says it’s working with WISE to deal with the parents’ concerns about the survey.
On social media, many agreed with the parents’ view that the survey did not seem suitable for that age group.
“Shame on this elementary school for allowing it and shame on the university proposing an inappropriate gathering of data,” one person wrote on Twitter. “The principal who allowed this is looking for another job, I hope.”