Elmbrook School District teacher distributed controversial sex survey | #students | #parents

A petition in support of a Brookfield Central High School teacher who distributed an optional survey that asked about students’ sexual activity has garnered almost 3,000 signatures so far. 

The survey received backlash from some parents after it was brought to the attention of the Elmbrook School Board. It’s now being investigated by the district, as the Brookfield Central principal said it never should have been delivered to students. 

A petition on the website Change.org had more than 2,700 signatures on Tuesday morning. Frank Pasternak, who started the petition, said the teacher who made the survey was Megan Arndorfer.

A staff directory from the district confirmed that Arndorfer is a physical education teacher at Brookfield Central High School.

“It is my strongly held belief that if we all strongly vocalize our support for Mrs. Arndorfer, she will weather this attack and continue to properly teach our high schoolers,” the petition said. 

“If one talks to a student who had Mrs. Arndorfer at BCHS for Health class, the student will almost always have positive things to say,” Pasternak wrote on the petition. 

Brookfield resident Heidi Harrison brought up the survey at a March 9 Elmbrook School Board meeting.

The survey was given to 10th-graders at Brookfield Central in December 2020. 

The class was told that participation was optional and that the responses to the survey were anonymous.

One of the questions asked was, “Have you been under the influence of alcohol or drugs while having sexual intercourse?”

Another question asked whether students have had sexual intercourse with four or more people. Other questions asked about birth control usage and whether students have had unprotected sex. 

“Those questions have no place in high school,” Harrison said about the survey. 

Harrison questioned whether the responses were truly anonymous and also said the survey should have had parental permission.

“This should not be asked of our 10th-grade children or any children underage,” she said. 

Brett Gruetzmacher, the principal at Brookfield Central, sent an email to families about  the survey. 

He said the survey was not approved by the district’s human growth and development curriculum, and therefore it “should not have been delivered.”

That policy says, “Teachers shall follow and use only approved instructional lessons/materials for all human growth and development outcomes.”

“Our number one goal for our students and staff is to feel safe in the school setting, and with this survey, we fell short of that goal,” Gruetzmacher wrote. “I am sorry and disappointed that this happened and will take the necessary steps to ensure that this does not happen again.” 

In an automatic email response, Arndorfer said she couldn’t respond to any emails at this time.

On the petition, Pasternak wrote that he believes dissatisfaction with the survey is coming from a “loud handful of parents.” 

A slew of positive comments were made about Arndorfer on the petition page. 

“Mrs. Arndorfer was and still is one of the most influential people in my life. She was my health teacher and softball coach all in one. She thought me everything I needed to know how to be safe as a woman,” one comment said.

“Anyone upset with Mrs A has clearly never been in her classroom. She’s a positive influence on every student she teaches,” another comment said. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does conduct research to monitor sexual activity in minors. Research includes a survey asking students about sexual activity and birth control methods. The survey used at Brookfield Central was not the same survey used by the CDC. 

According to a 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the percentage of high school students who had ever had sex decreased significantly from 2007 (47.8%) through 2017 (39.5%).

Evan Casey can be reached at 414-403-4391 or evan.casey@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecaseymedia.

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