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Huntsville parents are outraged after a teacher gave out a questionnaire that asked students about their gender identity, body modification and their parents' political views.
Ashley Barry, a civics teacher at Challenger Middle School in Huntsville, included a 48-question survey with her student’s homework assignments.
According to a parent who wished to remain anonymous, the questionnaire included questions asking if the student identified as cisgender, transgender or nonbinary.
It also included questions asking if students would be willing to undergo “extreme body modification,” as well as questions inquiring into the political leanings of the student’s family members.
“My daughter, when we started to discuss it, I got the feeling that she didn’t want to do it, but she felt like she had to because she told me, ‘It’s part of our lesson, and I didn’t want to fail,’” the parent said.
The parent told 1819 News they made a public social media post to garner support from other parents because of past experience with sluggish response times from the administrators.
“I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only parent that was outraged,” the parent continued. “However, it did make me mad that I was the only parent that knew about this survey. I am friends with another parent in that classroom, and she told me she had no idea about this survey, her child did not talk to her about it, and she didn’t check the iPad to look at the assignments that the kids were doing.”
According to the parent, they could not locate the survey on the school’s online Schoology platform after administrators took it down. Further, Barry told parents the questionnaire was a third-party survey given out by the school counselor.
When the parent asked the counselor for a link to the survey, they were told that it no longer existed. The parent further asked why a third-party survey would be unavailable just because the school removed it from the online lesson plan, to which she received no answer.
The school has not detailed any disciplinary action taken against the teacher by administrators, but a statement was sent to parents from the school’s principal.
“This afternoon, I learned that a survey had been used in your students’ class,’” Challenger Middle School Principal Bo Coln said in an email to the parents. “Unfortunately, the survey was not vetted or approved by our school leadership or the District’s leadership.
“The content of the survey was not consistent with the District’s standards for middle school students. Additionally, at the end of the survey, some students received optional demographic questions that were not appropriate for school use. I have asked that your teacher remove this survey.”
Huntsville schools have been the focal point of much discussion regarding teachings on gender identity, sexual orientation, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Critical Race Theory (CRT) and other polarizing subjects within education.
A recent election for the Huntsville Board of Education between Angela McClure and Andrea Alvarez saw a landslide victory for Alvarez.
Throughout the campaign, McClure maintained that Alvarez attempted to smuggle a "liberal agenda" into the school system. She also claimed Alvarez has repeatedly endorsed SEL as well as tenets of CRT involving gender identity and the use of alternative pronouns.
Alvarez, while condemning Barry’s actions, further condemned that parent’s decision to make the questionnaire public, claiming the parent did so without first informing the school administrators.
“It was a mistake made by a new teacher and handled within 1 hour of the Superintendent being notified,” Alvarez said. “Unfortunately, the parent decided that social media needed to find out before the school.”
“The most important thing to do when something like this happens is prevent further damage to our children. When you don’t immediately alert the school you increase the risk of more children possibly being introduced to something they shouldn’t be. Thank you to the concerned parent who alerted me to the social media posting so we could take proper action to protect our students.”
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