Parental rights advocates are urging Maine parents to opt out of a school survey that will be administered on Jan. 16 over concerns about the methodology of the survey, the nature of some questions, and the political purposes for which the data is used.
In the past, the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey focused on students’ diets, exercise levels, sleep habits, alcohol and tobacco use, and whether they felt safe at home. The information was used to provide insight into public efforts aimed at keeping students healthy.
But since 2017, the survey has also grown to accommodate left-wing ideas about human sex and sexuality, which means asking young students about their sexual orientation and their gender identity. These data are then used to advance policies in the State House and in Maine schools.
Alvin Lui, president of the parents’ rights advocacy group Courage is a Habit, is one of the people encouraging parents to opt out of the survey.
“These surveys mine your child’s data, then manipulates that data to justify more radical policies in schools,” Lui said.
Courage is a Habit is making available to Maine parents a simple form that will require schools to omit a given student from MDOE’s data collection activities.
“When they tell parents these transgender policies are needed due to ‘evidence base’ or ‘data driven’ or ‘research shows,’ these manipulated data from surveys are what they’re referring to,” he said.
In the 2021 survey for Maine high schoolers, for example, one question stated: “Some people describe themselves as transgender when their sex at birth does not match the way they think or feel about their gender. Are you transgender?”
In the 2021 results for that question, more students responded that they did not understand the question (1.4 percent) or were “not sure” (2.9 percent) than said they were transgender (3.6 percent), but the survey results nonetheless become incorporated into left-wing talking points to advance gender ideology in public education.
And Lui is correct: The survey results are often touted by non-profits, like the Rockland-based Out Maine, as proof that nearly one in three Maine students is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
The homepage of Out Maine’s website, for example, claims that 29.3 percent of Maine students are non-heterosexual or transgender.
Along with that assertion comes a push for more LGBT-themed content in the curriculum, more spending on materials from groups like Out Maine, and more training seminars taught by progressive consultants.
Although the nature of MDOE’s survey and data presentation has changed over the past decade, members of the public can access the survey results here.
The survey is conducted every two years, and data are available going back to 2009.