Parents outraged over survey asking sixth graders about drug use, gender identity

BOURBON, MO (WCMH) — Some parents in Missouri are outraged after sixth grade students took a survey asking about drug use and gender identity.

The questions were part of the Missouri Department of Mental Helath’s Missouri Student Survey, also known as the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Community survey. The survey also included questions about mental health, bullying and suicidal behavior. Now, parents are speaking out about questions they think went too far.

“A lot of that was completely ridiculous for an 11 year old to answer,” Courtney West, a parent of a sixth grader at Bourbon Middle School in the Crawford R-1 School District, told KMOV.

The survey was given to students in grades 6 through 12 across Missouri. The Department of Mental Health said the survey results are used to understand the risk behavior by teens and help tailor prevention programs, but parents believe the students are too young for these types of questions.

“The most inappropriate one was if they were transgender or thought about changing genders,” parent Samantha Overkramer said. “My daughter, I mean she just doesn’t understand that.”

Bourbon Middle School principal Brian Whit sent a letter home with the students on Friday, stating students were told “they did not have to answer any question on the survey that made them feel uncomfortable,” and that the district was not provided with the survey questions prior to giving the survey to the students.

Still, some parents say that their children were told they had to answer all the survey questions or they would be in trouble. Other parents said they wished they had known about the survey in advance.

The Department of Mental Health told KMOV that school districts are not required to take the survey and that they can opt out of various sections of it.

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