Lake Forest Schools fail to offer opt-out for student surveys containing questions about sexuality, gender identity


Lake Forest Schools in Illinois failed to provide parents with the option to opt-out of surveys administered to district students. A public records request confirmed that there was no notification sent to parents regarding the option to opt out. Upon further clarification, the district stated, “There are no records in the District’s possession responsive to your request.”

Under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), parents must receive notice and the opportunity to opt their student out of any survey. In emails, one school official admits she has never even heard of PPRA.

Emails obtained from the public records request reveal that district administration had not offered parents the opportunity to opt out. The district Director of Educational Services states in an email, “were there any notifications given to parents in advance of students being given the CYS survey (either any individual communication or something located in a student handbook or syllabus)?”

The answer from the director: “There was not.”

Based on a chain of emails between staff dated May 9, 2022, the district crafted a response to public records requests related to consent and parental opt-out notification. It states, “There are no records in the District’s possession responsive to your request.”

A follow up public records request response on May 16, 2022, shows that the district was already using the prepared statement.

The “2022 Illinois Youth Survey” for grades 6-8 and the “Community Youth Survey” administered to district students both feature questions such as “Are you: Female, Male, Transgender, Do not identify as Female, Male, or Transgender” and “Which of the following best describes you?” with optional answers including “Heterosexual (straight),” “Gay or lesbian,” “Bisexual,” “I describe my sexual identity some other way,” “I am not sure about my sexual identity (questioning)” and “I do not know what this question is asking.” The youth survey also asks middle school students about their access and use of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and opioids.

Lake Forest Schools has a contract with Panorama Education that started July 1, 2021, for a yearly cost of $4,500.

The district also entered into an agreement with Gallup on Sept. 29, 2021, for $6,336.16 to conduct a “Gallup Student Poll” and to administer “Clifton Strengths Explorer” for “youth aged 10 to 14.”