WARRENSVILLE — Why did students at Ashe County Middle School receive forms from the school’s based health center that inquired about their sexual orientation?
That’s what many middle school parents found themselves wondering this week after their son or daughter came home with a form from the health center that asked to choose or circle the orientation they best identified with. Some of those concerned guardians took to Facebook to vent their frustrations about the school system.
These forms are meant to gather general health information about each individual students. Like clockwork, these forms are sent home with students at the beginning of each school year, but this year parents noticed something different on the forms.
Along with choosing their orientation, students were also asked to disclose gender identity. In addition to the male or female option, students were also given the option of transgender male or transgender female. It’s important to note, however, that the “choose not to disclose” option was also available on the forms.
Due to the online response to these forms, Appalachian District Health, the agency that oversees the school based health center – was since sent home new forms that do not include the question about orientation.
Those new forms, along with a a cover letter, were sent home with students on Friday, said Jennifer Greene, deputy health director with ADH.
The cover letter also explains why the original form asked about sensitive information. Greene said health officials included the question in order to remain in compliance with requirements from grants they currently benefit from.
“We value what the community feels important so we revised the forms,” said Greene about the health department’s decision to revise the forms.
Like any other type of medical record, these forms are confidential and will not be circulated within any other department or outside agency, Greene confirmed.
Although the school base health center on the ACMS campus is a separate entity from the school system itself, school officials are pleased with how the health department has handled this situation.
“Obviously they (health department) got some comments back from people who are displeased,” said ACMS Principal Dustin Farmer. “They accommodated those folks. They can choose to fill out new ones if they want to. The health department has been very good about rectifying that situation and understanding from the parents’ perspective.”
To date, Farmer said he’s received one email about the forms, but no direct comments.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.