New survey will poll Hillsborough students about sex

- Questions about sexual behavior will be included on a survey given to Hillsborough County middle and high school students next school year.

The poll is known as a Youth Behavior Risk Survey and the questions are generated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Results of the survey are anonymous.

Hillsborough County Schools Board Chairwoman April Griffin said administrators have given the survey in past years, but without the questions relating to sex. Next year, the sex-related questions will be put back into the survey.

Griffin said the survey also includes questions about body image, dating violence and alcohol and drug use.

Its aim is to allow the district to identify areas where schools should provide more resources for students or supplement the curriculum with new material.

"We will be able to put together better programs for our students if we know specifically what behaviors they're engaging in," said Griffin.

According to Griffin, parents uncomfortable with their children answering the questions about sex can have their students not participate in the survey. Some of the topics on sexual behavior ask students to label their sexual orientation, if they are sexually active and if they use protection.

Griffin said adding the sex questions back into the survey allows the district to become eligible for federal grants associated with helping students learn about risky behaviors.

"Our students are making decisions every day regarding their overall health and well-being. Their sexual behavior is part of that. In order to be able to apply for certain grants, to look at what curriculum we need to offer, we need to gather that information about their behaviors directly from them," said Griffin.

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