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Parents: Missouri school district violated student privacy with illegal surveys on gender, race, health, and political views


In just the latest example of the ongoing affront on parental rights, a legal group representing Missouri parents has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Schmitt, R, requesting an investigation after a school district issued mandatory surveys to students that asked about their political beliefs, gender identity, mental health, racial views, and other personal information without parental knowledge or consent.

Quick Facts

In the letter, parents of students attending Webster Groves School District (WGSD) voiced their concerns about surveys given to students, claiming that they did not receive parental consent and the surveys ask questions that are private. The letter charges that schools are issuing surveys, many through third-party organizations, that collect data on students. The Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) sent the letter on behalf of the parents.

The litany of surveys asks questions about students’ political views, race, mental health, and political opinions, as well as inclusion at the schools.

The letter alleges that the third-party organizations present particular concern. One of the companies, Panorama, has political positions that cast doubt on its intentions. The letter alleges that the company was founded by Attorney General Merrick Garland’s son-in-law. The same Garland, the letter says, that ordered the FBI to investigate parents who oppose woke views in school. “Panorama has pledged its commitment to ‘dismantling systemic racism’ and ‘spreading anti-racist practices.’ It has defined its ‘areas of impact’ as including social-emotional learning (SEL) and mental health, anti-racism practices, and diversity and inclusion,” the letter alleges.

One of the surveys, which is published by the Youth Leadership Initiative at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, is called the E-Congress Political Ideology Survey. It asks questions about a student’s political views and recommends the parties that align with the student’s answers. Another required survey from the website “I Side With…” also asks about a student’s views and lists the political parties that most resemble them.

The district also gave students a survey entitled “LGBTQIA+ Struggles!” Among the questions it asked students was, “What struggles have you experienced related to LGBTQIA+ have [sic] you experienced here at Hixon?” This survey and others also asked students what their gender identity was.

WGSD surveys also asked students questions about their racial identity and race relations. One asked second-grade students in their “My Identity Journal” to answer questions about their comfort level with people of different races. Another survey only given to minority students asked if they were offended at school and what could be done to make the school more inclusive. That survey featured the Black Lives Matter logo.

High schoolers in the district were required to answer questions about their mental health from a survey collected by third-party organization Project Wayfinder Waypoints.

Parents claim that they were not asked for consent before the surveys were administered, and when they tried to ask about the surveys, they were “stonewalled” or given different answers.

Kimberly Hermann, general counsel for the Southeastern Legal Foundation, said, “Webster Groves School District violated federal and state privacy laws when it required students to provide personal information without parental consent on their political beliefs and those of their family members, on their mental health, on their sexuality and identity, and on their personal family relationships. Each of these are protected under law.”

The school district alleges that the surveys were voluntary and parents were given notification.

The parents are remaining anonymous out of fear of reprisals. “Unfortunately, we live in a world where parents who speak out are being doxxed and threatened on a daily basis,” Hermann said. “We saw this last week with the Libs of TikTok doxxing. We have witnessed the U.S. Department of Justice open a special office to investigate parents who attend local school board meetings, which is further meant to intimidate. For our clients’ safety and that of their families, they have chosen to remain anonymous at this time.”

This is just the latest example of schools violating parents’ rights in order to further a woke and divisive agenda — not the latest this year, but the latest this week. In Florida, for example, a mother announced today that she suing a school for secretly encouraging her daughter to transition and writing up a “transgender support plan” that would have put her safety at risk by allowing her to use a bathroom and stay in overnight accommodations with biological boys. And another report released on Monday found that a D.C. elementary school had K-3 students attend an “Anti-Racism Fight Club” and then provided them with a “fist book” with at-home activities that instruct them to be “loud, uncomfortable, confrontational, and visible” with family members about the topic and to write down names of family members “with racist beliefs.”

And still, schools will claim that parents are the problem. In fact, the hostility of these schools towards parents is so extreme that the complainants in the Missouri letter feel they need to remain anonymous. Hopefully, Attorney General Schmitt will take up the survey case to see why exactly schools and these third-party organizations are collecting personal data on students, while attorneys general and oversight authorities will investigate the other cases. And state legislatures have got to follow Florida’s lead by stepping up and codifying the right of parents to know exactly what their students are being taught and what decisions are being made with regard to their health and well-being. If schools have nothing to hide, then they should have no issue being totally transparent.

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