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Rantz: WA schools used COVID survey to ask middle schoolers if they’re trans or ‘something else’

Parents are livid that their young children — as young as 10 — were asked about their gender identity and sexual orientation in a survey that was supposed to be about COVID wellness.

The survey for grades 6-12 was administered by the Office of the Superintendent and was both anonymous and voluntary. But it caught students and parents off-guard, leading many to wonder what some of the personal questions had to do with the survey’s purported goal to gauge how students have fared during the COVID pandemic.

Though the survey warns students that it will ask them “personal questions that may be considered sensitive or uncomfortable,” parents say they were not effectively alerted to the survey before it was given to their young kids.

‘Sensitive’ survey asks personal questions of 10-year-olds

Many of the questions are noncontroversial. It asks if students are maintaining physical fitness, how often they spend in front of a computer screen, and what their emotional health is like.

But right after it asks students if they are in a space where they can answer the surveys honestly, it asks students to list their gender identity. It asks students what sex/gender they were are birth, “even if you are not that gender today.” Then, it asks how they identify: “male, female, transgender, questioning/not sure of my gender identity, or something else that fits better.”

They weren’t done prying into the lives of middle schoolers who likely don’t understand the adult concept of gender identity.

It asks their sexual orientation, including heterosexual, gay or lesbian. But it also lets the children select, “Something else that fits better.”

Parents argue this isn’t appropriate to ask of such young kids.

‘It’s infuriating’ as a parent

One father of a 12-year-old daughter in the Bethel School District complained that this survey went too far.

“I do my best to protect my daughter’s innocence at this age,” he tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “I don’t allow her to watch rated R movies that have sexual content in them. We don’t allow certain magazines and monitor her internet usage. It’s infuriating when the school pushes back against my value system.”

This father, who agreed to talk on the condition of anonymity, says the questions weren’t age-appropriate.

“My daughter will make her choices about life when she matures. I want her to use our values as a guide, not to be manipulated by our overreacting government,” the father said.

District spokesperson deflects

The district’s spokesperson Doug Boyles did not respond to my question about how the district is responding to parents who believe the questions are inappropriate. Instead, he deflected and said concerned parents should reach out directly to the COVID Student Survey creators. 

Boyles acknowledged that “a few parents have contacted their schools about some of the questions on the survey.”

The father I spoke with says he wasn’t aware of the offensive questions on student survey. He was told it simply was “more of a wellness/COVID questionnaire.” He says his daughter was upset with the questions asked. She took screenshots of the questionnaire and reported it to him.

Father lost trust in the school

Now the father says he feels betrayed by the school.

“I do not trust the public school system any longer. Once she is exposed to it, you can’t un-ring that bell,” he explains. “I got a very special email about how to opt my kids out of the HIV classes, but no specific/special email about wanting to ask my 12-year-old if she is a lesbian, a different gender than at birth, or how she identifies her sexuality.”

He’s warning parents to keep a closer eye on materials getting in front of their kids. He plans to tell his daughter’s school not to show her future surveys until he’s able to review it first.

“Most of it I don’t have a problem with and I understand the need for wellness monitoring,” he told me. “But is the state’s intent to inject transgender and hyper-sexuality into everything they do?”

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