Survey given in Berner Middle School asks students if they are “transgender” or “non-binary”


A concerned community member provided Parents Defending Education with a survey given to seventh grade students in Berner Middle School in Massapequa Union Free School District #23. The purpose of the survey was to gauge the drug awareness of students. The concerned community member explained that the survey was created by the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports. However, the survey asked students personal questions, including questions about their race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The survey specifically asked students if they are “transgender” or “non-binary.”

The survey appeared to be for students as young as sixth grade considering it asked students what grade they were in with sixth grade through the twelfth grade as options. While the survey is voluntary, it is unlikely that all parents knew what questions were being asked. The survey provided the following questions for students with the following options given as potential answers:

  • What grade are you in?
    • 6th
    • 7th
    • 8th
    • 9th
    • 10th
    • 11th
    • 12th
  • How old are you?
    • 10 or younger
    • 11
    • 12
    • 13
    • 14
    • 15
    • 16
    • 17
    • 18
    • 19 or older
  • Are you Hispanic or Latino/Latina?
    • No
    • Yes
  • Please choose the responses below that best describe you: (If you are more than one race please choose all that apply.)
    • Asian
    • Black or African American
    • Native American or Alaska Native
    • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
    • White
    • Other
  • Were you born:
    • Female
    • Male
  • Which of the following best describes you:
    • Not Transgender
    • Transgender-male to female
    • Transgender-female to male
    • Non-binary
    • I don’t know what this question is asking
    • Don’t know/Not sure
  • Which of the following best describes you:
    • Heterosexual
    • Gay
    • Lesbian
    • Bisexual
    • Don’t know/Not sure

The concerned community member also provided PDE with a letter regarding the survey that was provided to parents on May 5, 2022. The letter was from Assistant Superintendent Thomas Fasano. While he did mention that the survey included questions about drug usage, he did not explain that topics related to gender were in the survey. The letter included a form that allowed parents to opt their children out. Thomas Fasano stated in the letter:

As we have over the past several years, the Massapequa Public School District has agreed to participate this Spring in the 2021 – 2022 NYS Youth Development Survey, funded by the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) for our students in grades 7-12. This statewide survey is designed to improve our community’s understanding of our students’ strengths and the risks they may face for developing health problems like smoking, underage drinking and other substance abuse.