A survey given to Missouri public school students is not sitting well with some parents because it allows public schools to ask students about sexual preference and identity. Debra Walker with the State Department of Mental Health tells Missourinet the LGBTQ-related questions were removed from the core questions section because schools and the departments involved got some “pushback” after the 2012 survey was distributed.
“That’s why, when they went to formulate the questions once again this year, they offered the sexual orientation questions as optional questions,” says Walker.
Since 2004, the survey has been conducted jointly in even-numbered years by the Missouri Departments of Mental Health and Elementary and Secondary Education. The Missouri Institute of Mental Health (part of the University of Missouri-St. Louis) creates the survey and analyzes the data.
Walker says the survey, which is optional to schools and students, serves a greater purpose.
“Some of the research is now suggesting that the LGBTQ group may be at higher risk for behavioral health concerns,” says Walker. “We are trying to gather some data so that we might be able to provide programming and help to high-risk groups.”
Walker does not think the departments track information about schools that opt out of the survey or schools that omit certain modules or questions.
Missouri has about one million students enrolled in the public school system. In 2016, about 92,000 students took the survey. Walker says the figures vary every two years.
See the full survey offered by clicking here.
Within this survey are additional optional questions/modules. Below is the wording cut from the correspondence to the schools on these additional questions/modules. As you will see below, schools can choose whether or not to include questions about sexual orientation or gender identity and they have the opportunity to see exactly what the questions are before deciding to include them.
This year, 2 questions on sexual orientation and gender identity are optional. Can we add those questions to your district’s survey? Your answer will not influence anything else in the implementation of the survey nor will we inform anyone of your choice. Click here to see the exact question wording.
I need additional time to review the questions / talk to other people. Please contact me in 1 week to follow up on this topic.
This year, districts also have the option adding additional questions that they may find of interest. This is in addition to the core questions on students’ tobacco, drug and alcohol use as well as bullying, mental health, and other information. We will not include these questions in the state level data but will send it back to you as district level data. Select up to 2 modules to add to your survey. Click on the Module Title to see the exact question wording.
• We prefer not to add any modules
• I need additional time to review the modules / talk to other people. Please contact me in 1 week to follow up for module choices. Feel free to bookmark here (all Modules combined) so you can refer back to them as needed.
• Environmental Safety Module
• Extra Curricular Activities Module
• Family and Neighborhood Bonding Module
• Homework Module
• Post High School Planning Module
• Poverty Module
• Sexual Harassment Module
• Technology Module
• Toxic Stress Module