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Debate: Sex surveys, students and student journalism ...

Published April 6, 2017 10:33 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Any more, just about everything that happens reminds me of something that happened a long time ago.

Here's what's happening now:

— Utah school districts block sexual-orientation question on student survey — Kelly Gifford | The Salt Lake Tribune

"Health officials have been effectively blocked from gathering survey data on gay, lesbian and bisexual high school students after key school districts threatened to withdraw.

"The Utah Department of Health sought in 2016 to include a question regarding sexual orientation in an annual joint federal-state survey on health risks, known as the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and conducted in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Health department and CDC officials contend that an additional question on sexual orientation could provide valuable insights into the Utah's surging teen suicide rates.

" 'You can't learn anything from a death certificate about whether [LGBTQ] kids have a higher rate of suicide in Utah,' said Michael Friedrichs, an epidemiologist and statistician for UDOH. 'That is why we felt it was important [to add the question] so we could collect what data we could to generate some known facts.'..."


Once upon a time, when I was the editor of a small-town daily, we did an article about how the editor of the student newspaper at one of the local high schools had set out to do an anonymous survey of students asking about their sexual habits. Basically, Are you doing it? and Are you being careful? The idea was to do an article about the results and bring in some expert commentary on whether the findings showed the students at that school to be any different than whatever the experts might then have considered average and normal.

The administration, of course, squelched the whole project.

I wrote a thundering leader criticizing the principal for being a bluenose square and teaching his student journalists a really bad lesson about what journalists do.

To, of course, no avail.

Well, unless you count the fact that the student editor went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing and just was named the editorial page editor of The Kansas City Star. So I guess she wasn't too traumatized by the whole thing.

Also, there's this:

— New Pittsburg, Kan., High School principal resigns after student journalists question her credentials — Mara Rose Williams | The Kansas City Star

"Days after student reporters at Pittsburg High School in Kansas dug into the background of their newly hired principal and found questionable credentials, she resigned from the $93,000-a-year job.

" 'She was going to be the head of our school, and we wanted be assured that she was qualified and had the proper credentials,' said Trina Paul, a senior and an editor of the Booster Redux, the school newspaper. 'We stumbled on some things that most might not consider legitimate credentials.'...

" ... Students journalists published a story Friday questioning the legitimacy of the private college — Corllins University — where Robertson got her master's and doctorate degrees years ago. U.S. Department of Education officials, contacted by The Star, confirmed student reports; the federal agency could not find evidence of Corllins in operation. The school wasn't included among the agency's list of schools closed since 1986. Robertson earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Tulsa.

"Students found and The Star confirmed the existence of several articles referring to Corllins as a diploma mill — where people can buy a degree, diploma or certificates. And searches on the school's website go nowhere. No one from the university responded to emails sent by The Star this week. ..."

As the mayor in "The Music Man" kept bellowing, "Get me his credentials!"






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