Cheyenne Parents Want To Know Why Sexual Identity Survey Kept From Them

A sexual identity survey reportedly made available to Cheyenne high school students, but not made available to parents, prompted an animated turnout of parents, substitute teachers and others at a Laramie County School District 1 board meeting Monday night.

Clair McFarland

May 07, 20245 min read

Cheyenne South High School
Cheyenne South High School (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

A sexual identity survey reportedly made available to Cheyenne high school students, but not made available to parents, prompted an animated turnout of parents, substitute teachers and others at a Laramie County School District 1 board meeting Monday night.

“Those questions were inappropriate,” Lorraine Stevenson, a Cheyenne parent, told the board of trustees during its public meeting in Cheyenne. “Unless those pictures were taken, parents would not know (about the survey).”

Stevenson was referring to photographs substitute teacher Gene Clemetson said he took while in Cheyenne South High School - of a poster bearing two different QR codes.

“The classroom is a safe space,” says the poster in Clemetson’s photo, which the group Parents Defending Education published in a Thursday post to its website.

The QR code on the poster’s bottom left says it provides an opportunity to report harassment or bullying. The one on the bottom right says it’s to “change your legal name on PBIS (behavior-tracking system) to your preferred name.”

Though Cheyenne residents criticized the poster for about 12 minutes during the meeting, many of them thanked the board for their reported efforts to address it, and none were overtly elevated. 

Survey, Reportedly

Those who spoke during the public comment section of Monday’s meeting said the QR codes were only accessible by those with a school email address — excluding parents. But the Parents Defending Education story includes photographs of what it says is the harassment survey to which the left-hand code links.

The survey asks the student if he or she is a member of the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), a school club whose stated mission is to promote LGBTQ acceptance and solidarity. Next it asks if the student feels safe and accepted at South High School.

“Do your teachers use the correct pronouns/preferred names in class?” the survey continues. “Do classmates and your peers use the correct names/pronouns when referring to you?”

Lastly, it asks the student to list any bullying, and how South High’s environment could be improved to be more equitable and accepting of the student.

Public Comment

Clemetson could not be reached immediately via social media message Monday night for additional comment. But he delivered several comments to the school board, saying he took the photo of the poster, was disappointed to find it and he did not expect to see it in Cheyenne.

Clemetson said he’s from the New Jersey area, and has seen innocuous questioning like that devolve into “tyranny” in the form of authorities dividing families and policing speech.

No one spoke in favor of the poster or survey at Monday’s meeting.

Though some local residents criticized the poster, their chief stated concern was that parents reportedly could not follow the links on it, while students could.

Gratitude Too

In a post-publication comment to Cowboy State Daily, the school district confirmed it learned of the flier last week, and has since removed it from the wall of South High School.

"In order to respond to the changing needs of our families, we periodically survey our stakeholders and students," says the statement the district emailed to Cowboy State Daily late Tuesday morning. Yet, the statement adds, "The expected practice in LCSD1 is to communicate with families in advance if we intend to survey students about personal information."

Some at the board meeting expressed gratitude to the principal and school authorities for caring about the issue when parents reported it and working to address it.

“Thank you to Dr. (Stephen) Newton for your swift response to all of us parents who are concerned,” Patricia McCoy, a local resident, told the board, referring to the district’s superintendent. “And for your efforts to ensure the principals were going to walk and remove them from the school. Thank you for acting quickly.”

Always Rock Springs

Multiple speakers referenced the new Parental Rights In Education Act, which became law March 5 without Gov. Mark Gordon’s signature. It will require school districts to notify parents of changes in students’ educational, physical, mental or emotional well-being.

Lawmakers’ banter about this act during their recent legislative session traced it back to an incident in Rock Springs that has now given rise to a lawsuit in which a couple accused Sweetwater County School District No. 1 last year of treating their daughter as a boy while actively hiding the alternate treatment from them.

The district said it is developing a policy change to conform district policies to the new law.

"As part of our district’s efforts, our principals are reviewing all materials and procedures in our schools to ensure compliance with our expectations as well as the new statutory requirements," says the district's statement.

The act does not take effect until July 1.

The lawsuit Willey v. Sweetwater School District No. 1 is ongoing, with many claims surviving the early dismissal phase and proceeding into the discovery phase.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect a post-publication comment by Laramie County School District 1.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter