Worth Knowing: Windsor elementary school and parents of students upset by WISE survey
A survey sent by WISE, the Lebanon-based non-profit that provides sexual violence prevention programs, to Windsor elementary students has created some serious consternation in the Windsor community. The survey included questions about a given student's gender identity, whom the student is attracted to and whether the student had been involved in a romantic relationship within the previous year.
The survey was sent home with fifth grade students and a similar survey was to go home with sixth graders before this controversy erupted. The survey for sixth graders was not sent out.
No one at the Windsor School reviewed the survey prior to its distribution, and parents and school officials didn't learn what was in the survey until several students complained to their parents that the survey questions made them feel uncomfortable.
There seems to be no question that the survey was sent out for a good reason - to begin a 5-year evaluation by WISE of school violence prevention programs at three Upper Valley schools. And the survey itself was developed over 8 months by the University of New Hampshire and was approved by the university's institutional review board, the administrative body established to protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects recruited to participate in research activities.
But parents and school administrators felt that they some of the questions were inappropriate for 5th and 6th graders, that the school should have had a chance to review the questions before they went out, and that parents should have been aware of the survey.
For the time being, the Windsor School District has suspended its ties to WISE, and WISE has apologized that its efforts were not better coordinated with parents of students. The Windsor School Board will take the matter up at a meeting in the near future.
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