The State of Alaska is seeking input into which questions should be asked during the biennial Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which typically gathers information about the sexual practices, drug use home life and general health and wellbeing of high school teens.

Cancelled in 2021 due to an expected low participation rate, the survey is scheduled to return in February and March of 2023.

While the CDC is recommending that Alaska ask high school teens detailed questions about whether they have had oral or anal sex, which sexes they are attracted to and what gender they identify with, the final questionnaire is not yet set. Each state gets to determine whether they will participate and which questions they will include or omit.

Last year, the state attempted to conduct the survey on 9th through 12th graders by introducing a controversial new question asking teens about their sexual orientation and gender identity. It was the first time such a question was to be included.

But before the questionnaire could be administered in districts across the Alaska, the state cancelled the survey due to Covid difficulties and the fact that several prominent school districts had concerns about the state’s decision to include a question about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Now, the CDC is attempting to pressure the Alaska Department of Health to include even more objectionable questions for the 2023 survey.

While the state has promised to omit any questions dealing with sexual orientation or gender identity, other queries regarding sexual practices could be included, if the YRBS team approves them.

Before the survey is finalized, however, parents and others have a chance to weigh in.

A public meeting on Sept. 16 gives Alaskans an opportunity to offer suggestions and feedback on what the survey should include. The meeting will be held virtually from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. via Zoom. Those who wish to participate can register by clicking here.

Nationally, powerful left-leaning activist organizations regularly use YRBS data to push for LGBTQ affirming schools, gender-fluid bathrooms, transgender sports policies and curriculum that supports the wider LGBTQ agenda. Likewise, Planned Parenthood utilizes YRBS data to claim that schools should implement explicit sex education and offer birth control and abortion referrals for youth.

In addition to sexuality questions, the survey focuses on drug and alcohol use, gun safety, mental and physical health, violence, bullying, suicide, connection to community, and students’ views about their parents.

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

The survey does not ask for a student’s name, and their information is kept anonymous. Participation is voluntary and requires a parent to actively give permission in writing. Students 18 or older, however, do not need parental permission to take 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.

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Input needed: Should Alaska ask teens detailed questions about sexual practices?

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.