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Council under fire as children asked about sexuality

Cosham Library

Cosham Library

PARENTS have told of their anger after young children were asked about their sexuality as part of a survey about the future of a library.

Portsmouth City Council has published a survey which asks residents in the city what they would like to happen to Cosham library.

But among the questions, which covers all age groups, including under-15s, people were asked whether their sex has changed since birth and what their sexuality is.

Mum-of-two Haley Storey, 42, lives in Cosham. She said: ‘The questionnaire was open to my children who are six and nine. They had seen the question and wondered what on earth it meant.

‘They are ridiculous questions to ask anybody anyway because they are nothing to do with the library.

‘So to encourage children to take part in the questionnaire is even more ridiculous.’

Kate Jewell, 38, also a mum-of-two, , lives in Hilsea.

She said: ‘I don’t think many children would understand what that meant. I don’t think that asking under 15s that kind of question is appropriate. The question is irrelevant.’

City councillor Donna Jones said: ‘It’s completely inappropriate that the council is asking people their sex at birth and their sexuality.

‘I don’t see what relevance that has to the library usage.

‘I’m disappointed that from the questions asked they have failed to ask if you are signed up to the library and how often you use the library and what for.’

Leader of the council Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson conceded that it was wrong that these questions were asked.

‘From my knowledge, there were only three questions in it. I have no interest in the rest of it. It’s completely irrelevant.

‘I don’t think that questions about sexuality are appropriate or relevant for youngsters.

‘We have taken the questionnaire off the website and if we’re doing surveys with youngsters in the future then we will not ask about their sexuality.’

But he added that the survey was a requirement by the government.

He said: ‘The law says that we have got to know who the responses are from so that we don’t miss any important groups. We have to make sure we have responses from women, men, the elderly.

‘If we do not ask questions about who is responding then we could be taken to court for not having done something to find out who has responded, which could be costly for the taxpayer and a waste of public money.’

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‘From my knowledge, there were only three questions in it. I have no interest in the rest of it. It’s completely irrelevant.

‘I don’t think that questions about sexuality are appropriate or relevant for youngsters and I think we should be prepared to take a risk that we won’t be sued.

‘We have taken the questionnaire off the website and if we are doing surveys with youngsters in the future then we will not ask about their sexuality.’

 

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