CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Students as young as sixth grade are being asked to identify their sexual orientation in an annual survey administered by Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.
The voluntary survey is being given to students starting in 5th grade. While all of those students are being asked to voluntarily identify their gender identification, students starting in 6th grade are being asked to identify their sexual orientation.
“I’m wondering why they are asking those questions right now especially with that grade," asked parent Faye Harvey.
CMS says sharing a survey that includes those terms could help to better assess the current student climate.
For the question about gender identity, students can pick between:
- Gender fluid
- Not sure
For the question about sexual orientation, students can pick:
- Gay or Lesbian
- Questioning my sexual orientation
- Not sure
An additional question asks students if they identify as transgender.
“I feel like those questions should be saved for junior high or high school," says parent Tiffany Barwell. "They are a little more exposed to those kind of things when they are a little more familiar.”
CMS says the survey is voluntary and anonymous.
"The voluntary survey asks a range of questions on student efficacy, persistence, safety, belonging and bullying," CMS said in a statement to WCNC Charlotte. "Lastly, demographic data is collected, including gender identity and race."
This is the first year the questions were added regarding student sexual identity.
"As much as the information collected is anonymous, the district is evaluating including those questions in the future," the district said.
CMS explains the purpose of the survey is to better understand student issues and safety.
Student responses are anonymously reported to the district's Title IX office.
"Administering the survey is required of CMS as part of Title IX, but an individual student’s participation is not required," the district said in documentation provided to educators and later provided to WCNC Charlotte.
Title IX regulations protects people from discrimination based on sex in educational environments or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
“If it’s a big enough of a issue it should be addressed so people can be comfortable in their learning community," Barwell said.
Other parents say they would have appreciated notice about the new questions.
“I rather know about it first and then talk to my child and then we discuss if it’s uncomfortable for them then it’s going to be uncomfortable for them to answer that," Harvey said.
CMS says other school districts across the country have also added similar questions to their surveys.
The district said they "will use the results to inform our work and ensure our schools are safe, welcoming environments for all students."