Friday, October 15, 2010

Survey Says? Inappropriate!

Look, I'm not sure what a "sex survey" that is given to middle school children should consist of, but I'm not really all that comfortable with the first question on such a "survey" being "What is your gender?" and having there be four choices. As I'm sure you can imagine, not all of the parents were thrilled either.

Over there at Hardy Middle School in Washington, DC, a 7th grade health/physical education class was given a "sex survey", the purpose of which is a little fuzzy to me. From what I can tell from reading the article over there at something called
The Georgetown Dish, there's some sort of a non profit called Metro TeenAIDS which educates children about HIV and AIDS. It appears that in 2009, the Washington, DC Public Schools (DCPS) gave Metro TeenAIDS "...a $15,000 consulting contract and $80,000 contract...to provide programming in the schools". Supposedly, "This program has been selected by DCPS for instruction to meet [health learning standards] for the middle school grades and is used in 7th and 8th health classes (sic) throughout DCPS." Um, OK. How does this turn out to be some sort of survey given to 12-year olds and asking them about their gender while providing them with four choices?

That part isn't overly clear to me. But it does say that not only does Metro TeenAIDS (which is a ridiculous name, if you're asking me) provide some sort of an educational component, they also use their time in public schools to do research. I'm guessing that this little survey was more along the lines of the research end of things. Though, from what I can tell, a whole lot of kids learn a whole lot of new things that day. And I'm guessing that a lot of them were more than they ever wanted to know. At least, I'm hoping so.

Let's look at some of the questions and see how appropriate they are for middle school kids, shall we? Let's also see if we can figure out what in the world people were thinking when they decided that this would be a good idea, OK? Here we go...first question:

"What is your gender?"

Well, that seems pretty straight forward. Let's look at the choices.

A) Male B) Female C) Transgender (M to F) D) Transgender (F to M)

Wait. For 12-year olds? Transgender?! I'd be looking for "E) WTF". I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that choices C and D are completely unnecessary. 100% not needed. What is wrong with you people?

It only gets worse.

One series of questions read:

"How sure are you that you.......

Can name all four body fluids that can transmit HIV?

Know the difference between oral, vaginal, and anal sex?

Can correctly put a condom on yourself or your partner?

Will avoid getting yourself or your partner pregnant if you have sex?

Can convince a reluctant partner to use barrier protection (i.e. condoms, dental dams) during sex?"

For 12-year olds. First of all, dental dams? Really? You expect a 12-year old to have any sort of knowledge about that? Do you want your 12-year old to have knowledge of that? And seriously, who has ever used one of those? Honestly. Sure, they probably sound OK in theory (but not really), but I don't think that they're in high demand. Where do you get them? Other than at the dentist's office when you're having something done in your mouth. Are they next to the condoms? I have no idea and neither should 12-year olds.

By the way, when the kids didn't understand what certain things were and inquired about them, "...the facilitator...brought in on a DCPS contract...started to define "anal sex" and "oral sex." Are you kidding me?! Anal sex shouldn't even be explained to adults, let alone small children!
The questions on the survey continued along those ludicrous lines and included things like "During your life, with how many peopled have you had sex (oral, vaginal, anal)?" and "In the past 30 days on how many days did you......

Have 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row, or within a couple of hours?

Use marijuana?

Use other non-injecting drugs (like cocaine, PCP, ecstasy)?

Inject drugs with a needle like heroin)?

Have sex?

Have sex after drinking alcohol or getting high?"

Hey, you people getting the almost $100k grant to do this sort of thing! Yeah, you. Question: Don't you think that you should tone things down a bit? Seriously. Are you trying to traumatize these kids? I'd be interested to know if EVER during the time that you've been taking this survey even ONE 12-year old answered "Yes" to having 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row or within a couple of hours. I'm guessing you have not. And what does that have to do with HIV and AIDS?

Now, of course, parents were outraged. Not just so much at the content of the survey, but more so at the fact that they had not been notified ahead of time, given a copy of the survey or given a chance to have their kid opt out of this insanity. Huh. And they're angry, eh? In what way?

I'm sure that some sort of an apology is forthcoming. That I don't doubt. But I'm sick of apologies. Here's what I want: I want someone to explain to everyone how they came to the decision to distribute this survey to the middle schoolers. I want someone to explain the logic that they were using that allowed them to come to the conclusion that this sort of thing was appropriate. That's what I want. I want a detailed description of the thinking process that goes into something that is so obviously not OK. I also want to know if anyone, anyone even ventured to say anything along the lines of, 'Uh, are we sure this is a good idea? Because this seems awfully advanced for 12-year olds." Anything along those lines? Anything? Anyone? That's what I want to know. Keep your apologies and instead explain why you're so stupid. Inquiring minds want to know.

If you'd like to see more of this absurd survey, it can be found here. And I can be found banging my head against a wall. What is wrong with people?

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

All of these are great questions. Wouldn't you rather your child be informed rather than ignorant like yourself? It's great that they're accepting Transgender people as well because they should. 12 year olds ARE having sex, doing drugs and drinking alcohol and even if they aren't it's good for them to know the facts instead of making bad choices.

Mare said...

Thank you for commenting on my article that is over two years old.

This has nothing to do with "accepting" people. This is asking twelve-year olds if they themselves are transgendered. They're not. They're either male or female at twelve years old. If this was a survey for 20-year olds, that sort of a question would be more appropriate.

This isn't about EDUCATING the 12-year olds. This is asking them questions about things that it is HIGHLY unlikely that the majority would be exposed to. Do you teach your 12-year old about dental dams? I would hope not. I'm all for sex education, but there is a way to do it that is appropriate to the age of the child.

And thanks for calling me ignorant. That's a real good way to stimulate a pro-active discussion. Maybe if you could work on your grammar and punctuation just a tad, we could have an intelligent conversation about this two-and-a-half year old topic. Actually, probably not.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment and call me names. I appreciate most of it!

~ M