March 16, 2007

The MCCSC sex survey is back

I have a confession to make. For the past four years on my blog, I have not been honest about my identity. I am not a 5′10″, 150 pound white man. I am actually a 7′2″, 300 pound black man. My real name is Shaquille O’Tibbs. At least that’s what I wrote down when I participated in a recent anonymous survey, and we all know information on such surveys is always 100% accurate.

OK, maybe my confession is slightly inaccurate.

This is one of the problems I have with the proposed sex survey by MCCSC. There is no way to verify that the information that teens and pre-teens provide on this survey is accurate. Will they even take the survey seriously, or will they exaggerate for the fun of it? I heave heard anecdotal evidence that many teens who are not sexually active do just that.

At least the School Board has abandoned the arrogant, offensive and probably illegal “passive consent” plan. Under this scheme, parents would be sent a letter that would allow them to opt out of the sex survey, but if no action is taken by the parents the survey would be given. Under such a system, it is possible that many parents would not even know about the survey until well after their children have participated in it.

Some of the justifications for the survey are laughable. One of the excuses is to find out what students know about diseases such as chlamydia. Why do you need a survey about the intimate details of students’ lives to know that? Can’t MCCSC simply test the students on their knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases? You do not need to ask probing questions about the personal lives of middle school students to include information about chlamydia in health classes. If the students do not know about the disease, teach them about it.

Why does the School Board need to survey the students about their sexual habits (if any) to help parents talk to their children about sex? Is the school unable to work with parents directly to help them discuss these issues with their children? How exactly is an anonymous survey of questionable accuracy going to encourage communication between parents and teenagers or pre-teens, anyway?

We already know, given existing statistical data and cultural trends, that some (and perhaps many) students are sexually active. Conducting a survey on the details and frequency of this activity will only confirm what is already common knowledge. While the government schools have a legitimate role in providing information on medical issues and how to live a healthy life, government school officials do not need to probe the intimate details of children’s lives to do that.

A campaign by parents and concerned citizens against “passive consent” forced the MCCSC School Board to change course in 2005. But while that battle may have been won, the School Board is still controlled by people who support “passive consent”. Sue Wanzer, who is up for re-election in 2008, has been one of the most vocal supporters of “passive consent”. These people need to be fired in the next election.

See previous articles on this controversy from April 9, 2005, April 13, 2005, April 14, 2005, April 21, 2005, May 3, 2005, May 4, 2005.