Are you “as pure as Ivory soap” or “hopelessly condemned”?
A questionnaire given to students at Roy High School asks respondents about their sexual histories and drug and alcohol use — and then provides a score to determine their level of purity or indecency.
That sent up red flags for one student’s mother who wondered what is going on in her 16-year-old daughter’s “Adult Roles and Financial Literacy” class.
“I was in shock. I couldn’t believe something like this was handed out to students,” said Heather Danks Miller.
The survey, which says the questions are from a 1981 Dear Abby column, is 30 questions long. Question 27 asks: “Have you (your girl) ever had an abortion?” Question 28 asks: “Have you (your girl) had more than one abortion?”
Slipping drugs into someone’s drink is worth fewer “indecency” points than experimenting with a member of the same gender — which the questionnaire phrases as: “Even though you are straight would you go kinky to see what its [sic] like.”
Being ”kissed against your will” also counts for two points toward indecency.
Other questions ask whether the respondents have ever smoked pot or drank alcohol.
“It’s just bizarre,” Danks Miller said. “I told my daughter not to turn it in.”
She said her daughter, Olivia, told her she had to turn in the questionnaire to get a grade.
Weber School District and Roy High School offered a public apology Monday. The survey was inappropriate, they said.
“[We] want to extend our sincere apology to the students who were asked to complete this questionnaire, as well as their parents and we assure you this survey will not be used in the future.”
The district added that teacher Candance Thurgood “has been placed on administrative leave while the situation is being investigated.”
The survey was given to juniors as an assignment in the course as part of a lesson on risky behavior in dating, according to school officials. The course — which counts toward graduation requirements — includes instruction in human sexuality, which requires parental consent.
But this questionnaire serves to stigmatize students, rather than educate them in a healthy way about risks surrounding sex or alcohol and drugs, said Claudia Geist, a University of Utah professor of sociology.
“It‘s outrageous and creates a hostile environment for the students,” she added. “Kids will find ways to be cruel to each other; they don‘t need teachers to help them.”
The judgmental aspect of the survey was especially troubling to Danks Miller. Her daughter was “very upset” with her score, she said.
A tally of 11-15 means the respondent is “pure as ivory soap and maybe a fruitcake.” A score of 21-39 equates to “normal and decent.”
If the score is 40-75, the student is “indecent.” And anyone whose answers add up to over 104 is “hopeless and condemned.”
Danks Miller also pointed out that slang has changed in the decades since the survey was penned. Question 7 asks: “Have you ever parked for more than an hour?” Followed by question 8: “Ever taken off most of your clothes while parking?”
Those questions puzzled Olivia, who asked, “What do they mean by parking?” according to her mother.
“When she read me the questions and the rating system,” Danks Miller said, “I just got mad and called the school.”
Danks Miller said she met with the teacher and the principal, and the teacher told her that she’d used the survey for years without any problems or complaints.
The statement from the Weber School District said officials were unaware of the questionnaire, though it was hosted on a district web portal prior to Monday afternoon, and are looking into the matter.
“While the course itself contains instruction in human sexuality to which parents consented, the survey that was distributed to students elicited information about sexually explicit activities and delinquent behavior, and parental consent was not obtained for this particular set of questions, as is required by state and federal law,” it said.
In its Monday statement, school officials said they take pride in providing quality education to over 31,000 students in Weber County.
“Although we strive for a standard of perfection in teaching, occasionally mistakes are made. In such cases, it will be dealt with appropriately, always with the best interests of our students in mind.”