Parents were outraged to discover that middle school children at a Boston public school were recently given a survey that asked them if they had "ever participated in oral sex," the Washington Free Beacon reported.
A "Youth Risk Behavior Survey" was provided to sixth- and seventh-grade children at Boston's Eliot K-8 Innovation School, which requested that students provide details about their sexual history, gender status, and whether they have ever had any suicidal thoughts.
The 54-question survey posed several questions about the children's sexual activity, including: "Have you ever had sexual intercourse?"; "With how many people have you ever had sexual intercourse?"; and "The last time you had sexual intercourse, did you or your partner use a condom?"
It also asked students, "Have you ever participated in oral sex? Oral sex is when a person puts their mouth on another person's genitals or private area."
Students were prompted to answer questions about their sexuality and gender, including whether they identify as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or some other sexuality.
"A transgender person is someone who does not feel the same inside as the sex they were born with. Are you transgender?" the survey asked.
According to the survey's description, it was voluntary, anonymous, and distributed by Boston Public Schools to "improve health education for young people."
The surveys are "used to create local and state-level estimates of youth social-emotional well-being, substance use, sexual health, violence, injury, physical activity, nutrition and hunger, and other health risk behaviors," according to the district's website. "These data are a vital resource to help guide decision-making and resource allocation for effective prevention and control programs for schools and communities."
Boston Public Schools press secretary Max Baker told KGAN-TV that the district has distributed the survey for 30 years and to middle schools for 10 years.
In a message to families, the district wrote, "The anonymous survey data helps BPS to improve our practices, policies and resources to best support student health in the areas that the YRBS data show there is the most need."
"The CDC along with city and state partners work together on the survey. We recognize that some questions on the YRBS could be uncomfortable for some students and families. Sexual behaviors, mental health, suicide, dietary behaviors, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use can be sensitive topics," the district added.
Deirdre Hall, a mother of a child who received the survey, told the Washington Free Beacon that the questions were "entirely inappropriate."
Hall explained that her daughter came home from school and told her she had been given a "really weird survey" during history class.
"She said half her class didn't even know what any of this stuff meant," Hall said. "Now they're coming home and asking their parents and their friends, 'What's oral sex?'"
Another parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was "outraged" children had been asked "private explicit sexual questions" without parental consent.
On Thursday, the Eliot K-8 Innovation School principal sent a letter to parents acknowledging their concerns.
"There are many concerns regarding the age appropriateness of the survey questions related to a number of topics including sexual health," the principal wrote in part. "We have reached out and shared these concerns with the Superintendent's Office, Office of Teaching and Learning and the Department of Health and Wellness."
She noted that Boston Public Schools would respond to concerns and that parents would have an opportunity to voice their opinions during a virtual meeting.
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