Hinsdale high schools to survey students on sex life, drug use

HINSDALE — Hinsdale High School students will be surveyed this month about honesty, charity, sex, drugs and violence.

Those are some of the topics covered in a questionnaire that will be given anonymously to students at both Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South.

The survey consists of 160 multiple-choice questions, some of them very personal, about students’ attitudes, behaviors and perceptions. The survey questions are prepared and results compiled by Search Institute in Minneapolis.

The questionnaire, which has been given every three years since 2000, is “a long-standing instrument used to measure the well-being of our students,” said District 86 Superintendent Nicholas Wahl. “It allows us to monitor student behavior and decision-making over time.”

Parents could have their teenager excluded from taking the survey, but only seven did. Students who take the survey are not required to answer all the questions, Wahl said.

At a recent meeting, District 86 School Board member Dianne Barrett said she thought some questions about sexual activity and suicide are “invasive,” and may violate students’ individual liberty.

The first two questions ask the student’s age and grade level. The next question asks the student’s gender and offers six choices: female, male, ”transgender male to female,” “transgender female to male,” “transgender, do not identify as exclusively male or female,” or “not sure.”

Next, students are asked their sexual preference. Among the five possible responses are “mostly straight/heterosexual,” “mostly lesbian/gay,” and “only lesbian/gay.” Later in the survey, students can agree or disagree with the statement, “It is against my values to have sex while I am a teenager.”

The next set of questions asks the students to rate how important different principles are to their lives, such as telling the truth, accepting responsibility and “helping to make the world a better place to live.”

School-related questions ask about time spent on homework, grades, cutting classes and teacher and parental support.

Other questions are about sexual activity, smoking cigarettes, drug use and violence.

The students’ self-esteem is gauged by whether they agree or disagree with statements such as: “On the whole, I like myself.” “At times, I think I am no good at all.” “My parents often tell me they love me.”

School officials use information from the survey when considering changes to the character education programs at both high schools, what extracurricular activities should be offered for students’ unstructured time, and what topics to present at parent education sessions, Wahl stated in an email.~.