House rejects amendment to increase oversight of controversial student survey

Not even 15 Minnesota representatives supported a measure that would provide more oversight regarding data collected from school children.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski speaks on the House floor Wednesday. (MN House Info/YouTube)

Republicans and Democrats in the Minnesota House opted to not advance an amendment that would increase oversight of data collected from school children in light of a controversial survey that asks young children a slew of sexual questions.

The amendment to increase oversight of such surveys failed to garner even 15 supporters in the 134-member body, killing the measure before it could be brought to a roll call vote.

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I was that no one wants an actual vote on this,” Rep. Tim Miller said.

The proposal was introduced as an amendment to the DFL’s education omnibus bill, which calls for ethnic studies courses in all public schools.

“This bill doesn’t put $1 toward the per-pupil formula, and gives nearly twice as much funding to Minneapolis schools as the rest of the state — this bill won’t do anything to address the stagnant test scores and devastating learning loss from Democrat school shutdowns of the past two years,” Rep. Ron Kresha, Republican lead on the House Education Finance Committee, said of the bill.

The Minnesota Student Survey given to public school kids presently asks children as young as 6th grade about their gender and sexuality, listing alternative options like “pansexual,” “genderqueer” and “genderfluid.” Minnesota students in 9th-12th grade are asked how many people they’ve had sex with in the last 12 months.

In light of this, Rep. Steve Drazkowski proposed an amendment that would see surveys administered by a government agency to school children sent to the Minnesota Legislature for prior approval. While parents are already given the option to opt their kids out of any school survey, this amendment would provide an additional hurdle for controversial surveys to clear.

“I can’t find any instance in law where the Legislature has authorized the government to conduct this survey,” he said.

Drazkowski said parents in his district want more oversight when it comes to what data the government is collecting from school children.

“What has particularly shaken the … communities of several school districts in my House district is the nature of the questions in the survey,” he said on the House floor.

“I struggle with us going in and creating uncertainty with kids,” he added, suggesting that giving students options to adopt alternate gender and sexual identities is implicitly encouraging children to make a certain choice during critical points in their development.

He was joined by Reps. Eric Lucero, Mary Franson and Miller who also believe that it’s inappropriate to ask children as young as 12-years-old if they are genderfluid.

Their position drew counter-fire from Democrats. Specifically, Rep. Jim Davnie said the way Lucero spoke about non-cisgender identities “denigrated” “two-spirit” people. He pointed out that there was once a “two-spirit” representative in the House.

He then accused Lucero and Drazkowski of being “offensive” and blamed them for propagating a “false narrative,” demanding an apology.

“We have two members, at least, on this floor who have been disrespectful to this body and Minnesota and I believe they owe this body and Minnesota an apology,” Davnie said.

“Rep. Davnie, I’m not going to apologize to you for my curiosity and my work in representing my constituents,” Drazkowski responded. “I will not do it, ever. I will never apologize for that.”

Miller dismissed the invitation to apologize as “absurd.”

“By talking down [to] and denigrating what Rep. Drazkowski is raising questions of in this survey in his amendment, you are denigrating probably 95% of the people in my district … we’re not backwards, we’re not ignorant. We shouldn’t apologize for the way that we believe,” he added.