EDITOR’S NOTE: While two candidates for school board are mentioned, I interpret this letter to be about the school survey and not specific to the election, therefore it is not constrained by our 250-word election letter limit. DS

Five individuals are running for three school board seats here in Buena Vista.

The responses from these five candidates appeared in The Chaffee County Times, and of particular interest to me were their responses to the question regarding the Healthy Kids Colorado survey that was recently administered to our kids.

One candidate, Lynn Montoya, declined to answer. Three others who chose to answer the question clearly missed the point, and I believe are typical of what is termed 2nd order thinkers. Their response basically said sending the survey out was OK because parents and students could opt out.

The one single candidate who responded appropriately was Terry Gerstmeyer.

This issue has three primary concerns for me:

1) Does the right to opt out actually receive the emphasis it deserves? I question how many are actually intimidated by doing so or worse, encouraged not to?

2) Once the survey has already been presented, the horse is already out of the barn, and the pressure to opt out is now a serious concern, from both a parental and student perspective.

The promise of anonymity and the written confirmation that participation is voluntary are 2nd order concepts.

The first order concept is why the survey should even be sent out to begin with-why the school district would participate.

Are you, as a middle school parent, comfortable with your student being given a choice whether to answer questions like these ... many of which at that age probably never entered their minds until such a survey was even presented to them?:

“What is your gender identity?” “Are you transgender?” “Have you ever had a sexual experience where you were unsure if you gave consent?” “Have you ever seriously thought about killing yourself?” “Did you drink alcohol or use drugs before you had intercourse the last time?” “How long would it take you to be ready to fire a loaded gun without a parent or other adult’s permission?” Etc., etc.

This is a 13 page survey so there’s no sense in listing all these horribly leading questions.

I am totally opposed to any school board candidate who believes these questions are appropriate for middle school children and who believe “opting out” mitigates the issue. But even at that, the school district has the option to “modify the survey to meet the needs of their community” or opt out as a district completely, and I wonder how many parents, school officials and school board candidates have even considered these options?

“Hey Johnny, you don’t have to answer this, but have you ever considered killing yourself?”

Are you kidding me?

David Wright

Buena Vista

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