Roy High teacher on leave after sending home 'questionable' sexuality survey

Monday , September 11, 2017 - 1:37 PM6 comments

ANNA BURLESON, Standard-Examiner Staff

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11:45 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 12, with more comments from parents.

ROY — A Roy High School teacher has been put on paid administrative leave after distributing a “questionable” sexual survey to students as an assignment, according to the Weber School District.

District spokesman Lane Findlay said the survey was given to juniors as an assignment for the Adult Roles concurrent enrollment course, which provides instruction in human sexuality and requires parental consent to enroll.

It is against federal and state law to survey students about sexual behaviors, orientation, attitudes and involvement in any illegal or incriminating behavior.

Finday declined to release the name of the teacher but said it was a “veteran” instructor.

“This matter is being taken very seriously, and the teacher has been placed on administrative leave while the situation is being investigated,” a news release from Findlay stated.

Findlay said the survey was assigned sometime last week. Parents first brought the survey to the attention of school officials Friday, Sept. 8, and the teacher was placed on leave Monday, Sept. 11.

Findlay wasn’t sure how many students were assigned the survey. “But it was at least a couple of classes worth, so that’s quite a few,” he said.

According to a copy of the survey obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune, questions include, “Have you (your girl) ever had an abortion?” and “Have you ever been kissed while in a reclining position?”

The survey also included questions about drug and alcohol use.

Answers were assigned point values, and a scoring system at the end ranked students from “A nerd — just where you should be at your age” to “hopeless and condemned.”

“We want to apologize to students and parents,” Findlay said.

The survey was hosted through the Weber School District website, and Findlay explained teachers use it as a portal to share information frequently. As of Monday, it had been removed from the website.

Findlay said he wasn’t sure where the instructor got the 30-question survey, but the Salt Lake Tribune reported it is from a from a 1981 “Dear Abby” column.

Marisa Stringham’s 16-year-old daughter, Reilley, is one of the students who completed the survey and turned it in.

The concerned mom found out about it when a friend showed her it had been written about on a blog called “Scary Mommy.”

“I had given my consent for her talk about human sexuality in that class, but there’s a huge difference between that and what was on that survey,” Stringham said.

What bothered Stringham the most was a question that asked whether the respondent had ever been kissed against their will. If they answered yes, they received more points. A higher number of points reflected negatively on the student, per the survey’s scoring scale.

Stringham said the question shamed any student who had ever been sexually assaulted in that manner.

"It doesn’t matter if they’re 16, 17, a lot of them have had sex," she said. "No matter how much sex they’ve had, that doesn’t detract from their worth as a human being and to have rankings that say they’re ‘hopelessly condemned’ or ‘indecent’ is unacceptable.”

At the same time, Stringham is taking this as a learning opportunity and doesn’t want the teacher to be fired.

“I don’t hold any personal ill will, I just think it’s always good to correct bad teaching practices,” she said.

Courtney Child also has a daughter in the class where the survey was assigned. In an email, she said she doesn’t think the instructor did anything morally wrong.

“In this day and age, you should be having these conversations with your child; and if you're not, shame on you,” she wrote.

Child said parents who gave permission for their children to be in the class knew sexual content would be discussed and the teacher was merely being open and honest.

“I feel the only reason this is even an ’issue’ is because we live in Utah; and clearly there is no separation of church and state,” she wrote in the email.

Contact education reporter Anna Burleson at aburleson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnagatorB or like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/BurlesonReports.

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