By: Steve Trubilla
If someone in authority in a controlled and public setting told you to document your sexual orientation, how would you react to it?
I mean if they specifically asked you, are you bi-sexual, gay, fluid, heterosexual, lesbian, pansexual, queer, questioning, prefer not to disclose, or do you self-identify.
Now remember this is not just some random person asking this, it is someone with authority over you. That authority has an expectation you would comply with what is asked of you. It would also be reasonable for you to expect consequences if you do not. Often, when those in authority ask you to do something, it is really just a nice way of telling you to do it.
Honestly, it is hard for me to believe someone would be so insensitive as to ask such a personal and intrusive question. Certainly they would not ask for it to be documented in a public setting.
My guess is after the initial surprise/shock wore off of you being asked such a thing there would be some sparks flying.
What if I told you this is exactly what happened, by way of a survey, at the Terrell Lane Middle School in Louisburg.
Before I move on with this, I have to tell you, I did not know there were so many sexual orientation choices, did you?
The survey had other equally sensitive and what I feel were inappropriate questions for 11-year-old children. An example; "Calling someone a slut or hoe, is it a big deal?"
You read that right, 6th graders were asked/told to fill out a form titled a Pre-Survey: Shifting Boundaries 2018-2019 with these kinds of questions. This has been in the media; WTVD and WRAL ran stories on it. Staff writer Carey Johnson also wrote a story on it for The Franklin Times.
The news cycle has moved on but there is a lot more to this story.
Most people would not even know this happened if not for a concerned mother of a student at Terrell Middle School, Louisburg resident Connie Jo Hutchinson challenging it when she learned the sexual orientation was asked.
After hearing murmurs of the content of the survey, Hutchinson said she called the school to see if the question was included in the survey. She said Ms. Perry, the school counselor, said that it was not part of the program, but Hutchinson's son said the question was included.
Other parents have contacted me equally upset and asked that I consider this as a story in this column.
Categorically and unequivocally, the question was included in the survey. I have a partial copy of the survey that proves it.
In pursuit of this and in the interest of being fair, I contacted the Franklin County Schools and requested an interview meeting with Michelle Fiscus, director of communications. My intent was to ask more probing questions and obtain a complete copy of the original survey. With it I could compare it to one I have been told that has replaced it.
She declined my request for the meeting and told me the Franklin County Schools did not have a copy of the original survey, that it had been administered by Safe Space. She suggested I contact Monica McInnis, executive director of Safe Space, for a copy.
So I did, she would not provide a copy either. I found her to be very evasive. McInnis asked that I not quote anything she had to say. The obvious question is why?
Do you honestly believe no one has a complete copy of the original survey?
Fiscus did provide me with page one of the original survey, which I already had; she also provided a copy of the amended survey they are now using.
Additionally, she provided the Franklin County Schools' official response to the matter.
The following are excerpts from that response.
The survey, consent form, and curriculum were not created by the school system or Safe Space (the organization that administered the survey). Franklin County Schools understands the concern of parents surrounding the question and consent form. We immediately took action when this issue was first brought to our attention.
"Took action when this issue was first brought to our attention."
Franklin County are you kidding me! They did this and did not even bother to look at the survey before your children were subjected to it. How do you feel about that?
Where is the investigation, what else is going on no one knows about that your tax dollars/you are paying for? County commissioners, are you paying attention. You do hold the purse strings for the schools.
Will this result in another lawsuit, this one a Class Action that you, the citizens of Franklin County, have to pay for? FYI (for your information) people are talking about doing exactly that.
Connie Jo Hutchinson reminds me of Erin Brockovich, a timeless shining example of possibilities and what one can accomplish with determination. Thank you, Connie Jo.
Like I said, there is more to this story, much more.
This is part one.