Superintendent says investigation launched over controversial survey given to CMS students

CHARLOTTE — In an exclusive interview, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston is demanding to know who is responsible for a controversial survey asking students about their sexual orientation.

Winston told Channel 9 Tuesday night there is a human resources investigation underway into who was responsible for putting those questions on a mandatory survey given to some students last week.

Winston said he couldn’t go into detail about the investigation, but he is trying to learn how the questions were included on the survey administered to students as young as fifth grade.

Numerous parents raised concerns last week after a Title IX survey asked students in middle and high school about their sexual orientation and gender identity. Those survey questions were pulled after parents raised concerns about their appropriateness.

“I am very concerned with the timing and the way in which I was informed about the actual survey,” Winston told Channel 9. "It did not occur to the expectation that I have. I have expressed that to staff, and it is an active human resources matter.”

Questions on the survey included:

How do you describe your gender identity? (check one)

  • Male
  • Female
  • Non-binary
  • Gender fluid

Do you identify as transgender?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

Which of the following best describes your sexual orientation?

  • Straight/heterosexual
  • Gay or Lesbian
  • Bisexual
  • Pansexual
  • Asexual
  • Questioning my sexual orientation
  • Other

All students in fifth through 12th grades were given the survey, but it wasn’t until sixth grade that they were asked about sexual orientation.

“It is very concerning to me,” Winston said. “We have an obligation to our families, to our students. We have an obligation to our staff and to our schools to communicate effectively to our families when dealing with sensitive matters such as these.”

Winston said that although he could not go into specifics about the HR investigation, he is promising transparency. He said the CMS Board may be briefed on the findings when the investigation is complete.

“We want to be fully transparent about this process,” he said. “We are going to work as hard as we can to avoid a similar occurrence from happening in the future.”

The survey, which now does not include those questions, closes on Friday.

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