Robert Hammond Statement on Students Being Questioned By Orange County Schools on Their Sexual Orientation
Santa Ana, California – Orange County Board of Education Trustee David Boyd continues to defend the Orange County Board of Education’s policy of questioning children as young as 12 years old about their sexual orientation.
Talking recently to reporters, Boyd went on the attack – two years later – calling for an investigation of a fellow board member who privately and publicly raised concerns about the survey.
The ongoing survey of all Orange County students in grades seven, nine and eleven, includes this question:
Which of the following best describes you? (Mark All That Apply.)
A) Heterosexual (straight)
B) Gay or Lesbian or Bisexual
D) Not sure
E) Decline to respond
Trustee Robert Hammond said it is “wildly inappropriate and likely even illegal” for the district to ask children as young as 12-years-old about their sexual orientation.
“As I did two years ago, I again call for an immediate end to asking students about their sexual orientation,” Hammond said. “I also call for all such data collected from this survey to be destroyed and expunged from all student records. I sincerely hope that this time Trustee Boyd will support me in recognizing that ethical, legal and civil rights liabilities are involved when government agencies such as ours presume to ask minors about their sexual orientations.”
In an April 2014 email to a district employee, Hammond noted that California law requires:
“…pursuant to EdCode section 51513, whenever a survey is to be given to a child, there are *THREE* things the school district is supposed to do.
1. Notify the parent in writing that the school district wants to give a survey to their child.
2. Post the complete survey in a timely manner and give parents access to the survey so that parents can read the survey and make an informed decision about the survey.
3. Allow the child to take the survey only after the school district has receive[d] *written permission* from the parent that the parent _wants_ the child to take the survey.
“This means that it is an **Op[t]-In** not an Op[t]-Out. If parents found out that the law was violated, this could become very expensive.”
In that same email, Hammond wondered whether a district employee would feel comfortable answering questions about his own sexuality. Boyd has seized on that to suggest that anyone critical of the childhood sex survey is guilty of harassing district staff.
In response to Boyd’s odd logic, Hammond said, “It is inappropriate to ask an adult employee about their sexual orientation, but it is even more inappropriate for our schools to be asking students about their sexual orientation.”
Hammond, who is running for reelection to the district’s board of trustees, dismissed Boyd’s call for an investigation as a campaign ploy.
“There’s no defense of this survey, and David Boyd knows that,” Hammond said. “He also knows the context of this email was my attempt to end the practice of students being asked about their sexual orientation when he was Board president, and he should be ashamed of himself for playing political games in matters of our student’s privacy and safety.”