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Utah teacher in hot water for teen ‘indecency’ quiz

This outdated sex and drugs questionnaire punishes respondents for being gay.


Ana Valens


Posted on Sep 12, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 5:43 pm CDT

Are you hopelessly condemned for your wicked ways? Perhaps you should take this Utah high school teacher’s quiz that gauges students for decency.

In a lesson on “risky behavior in dating,” Roy High School teacher Candance Thurgood sent out a survey called “Know Thyself” to students in her “Adult Roles and Financial Literacy” class. Originally featured in a 1981 “Dear Abby” column, the questionnaire included 30 questions on sex, dating, and drugs. At the end, respondents tallied up their points to see whether they were “pure” or “hopeless and condemned.” The more points, the more indecent. Handing in the quiz was also required for a grade, according to one mother who spoke to the Salt Lake Tribune.

“I was in shock,” parent Heather Danks Miller said to the Tribune. “I couldn’t believe something like this was handed out to students.”

Thurgood alleges that she had used the questionnaire for years without complaint, although many of the questions are judgmental, misogynistic, or homophobic. Others enable rape culture. For example, question six gives asks if respondents have “ever been kissed against your will,” and assigns two points if so. Meanwhile, question 29 asks, “Even though you are straight would you go kinky to see what its [sic] like?” That question lands 13 points to respondents, making queer dating equivalent to stealing money for drugs or having more than one abortion.

University of Utah sociology professor Claudia Geist argued that the quiz stigmatizes teens, alienating them and giving bullies more opportunities to harass classmates.

“It‘s outrageous and creates a hostile environment for the students,” Geist explained to the Tribune. “Kids will find ways to be cruel to each other; they don’t need teachers to help them.”

Weber School District has since placed Thurgood on administrative leave “while the situation is being investigated.” An official apology was sent out from the district, clarifying the class’s requirements.

“While the course itself contains instruction in human sexuality to which parents consented, the survey that was distributed to students elicited information about sexually explicit activities and delinquent behavior, and parental consent was not obtained for this particular set of questions, as is required by state and federal law,” the district said in an official statement. “Although we strive for a standard of perfection in teaching, occasionally mistakes are made.”

H/T Complex

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*First Published: Sep 12, 2017, 11:54 am CDT