In a few weeks, tens of thousands of teens from all across Alaska will be given time during school to fill out the Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Conducted every two years, it collects detailed information about the sexual practices, drug use and general health of Alaska teens.

This year’s survey marks the first time the state will include a question about sexual orientation and gender identity. The survey did not contain this question in past years, dating back to 1995.

Specifically, the new question asks: “Which of the following best describes you? A. Heterosexual (straight) B. Gay or lesbian C. Bisexual D. I describe my sexual identity some other way E. I am not sure about my sexual identity (questioning) F. I do not know what this question is asking.”

Activist groups regularly use this data to push LGBTQ programs in schools and explicite sex education.

Other questions ask students (grades 9-12) to reveal their sexual practices including the last time they had intercourse, how many people they had sex with, whether they used a condom or birth control and how old they were at the time.

The survey also captures information on whether teens felt forced to engage in “sexual things that you did not want to do,” and whether they are regularly tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

Other topics focus on drug and alcohol use, gun safety, mental and physical health, violence, bullying, suicide, connection to community, and student’s views about how involved and connected they are with their parents.

The survey asks teens whether they ever sleep away from their parents’ home because they were kicked out or ran away due to safety concerns. It also asks, “How often does one of your parents talk with you about what you are doing in school.”

Data from the survey is used by the state and other agencies to develop health education, sex-ed courses, behavioral health programs and other youth centered outreaches.

The survey does not ask for a student’s name, and their information is kept anonymous. Participation in the data collection is voluntary and requires a parent to actively give their permission, in writing, per state law. Students older than 18, however, do not need a parent’s permission to fill out the survey.

According to the state’s YRBS website, 2-3% of students typically refuse to participate in the survey, and in 2015, 19% of parents did not give permission for their child to take it.

The survey is part of a national effort run by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Alaska Departments of Health and Social Services and Education and Early Development facilitate the survey.

Nationally, powerful left-leaning activist organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign, regularly use the YRBS data to push for LGBTQ affirming school environments, including gender fluid bathrooms, transgender sports policies and curriculum that supports the wider LGBTQ agenda. Likewise, Planned Parenthood utilizes YRBS data to push for explicit LGBTQ sex education, birth control and abortion services for youth.

Click here to read the 2021 YRBS survey questions.

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Alaska to gather data on teens sexual orientation and gender identity

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 20 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.