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GARDNER, Kan. — Surveys the Gardner Edgerton School District is participating in are raising some eyebrows and some parents are confused.

They believe the surveys deal with sexual orientation and gender identity.

Gardner Edgerton parents are now becoming aware of a series of surveys that the district sent out as part of its enrollment.

But the “Kansas Communities That Care” survey is now unique to the school district.

“So any school district throughout the state of Kansas can take that survey, free of charge,” said Shana Burgess, Johnson County Mental Health Center director of prevention. “So schools actually opt in and choose to administer the survey within their district or their building.”

The surveys are provided by the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services and Behavioral Health Services Commission.

The topics range from depression, home life and even sexual orientation and gender identity.

It’s all data that the Johnson County Mental Health Center looks at.

“So in our community, you know, we want to keep children, kids families, safe and healthy. And with this data, we can really guide the decision making in order to allocate resources,” Burgess said.

The Gardner Edgerton School District said there’s been some misinformation about the surveys, particularly the sexual orientation and gender identity components.

The district said “USD 231 is only giving the base survey and not the additional options, including questions on sexuality, etc.”

Questions about the survey come after a district school board member proposed a policy to ban student pronouns and transgender bathroom usage last week.

As for the survey, parents have to opt in for their child to participate in the “Kansas Communities That Care” survey. The district has been a participant of this study for years and it helps not only the school, but community learn about what programs could be effective for youth.

“This survey can help us make decisions that most positively impact different populations,” Burgess said.

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