The surveys grew out of a unit on prejudice. I wanted students to understand their personal prejudices, and at one point I suggested the idea of a survey about the extent of discrimination in the middle school. My students enthusiastically took up the idea.
We brainstormed and discussed certain types of discrimination, and the students developed a list of potential topics for the survey: classism, racism, sexism, and homophobia. Students could select any one of these topics, but most chose to do surveys on homophobia
In developing their surveys, I encouraged the students to apply the scientific method, recently taught them by the science teacher, and to develop a hypothesis, create a survey to collect data, analyze data, and draw conclusions.
I had one parent who objected to her daughter doing a survey on homosexuality. "I don't want my daughter to become one of them," she stated. I agreed to the mother's demand, and had her daughter do a survey on another topic. While developing the alternate survey, the daughter commented, "I didn't know my mother was homophobic."
The only other obstacle was the principal. But my students held firm, agreed to the compromise, and proceeded with their surveys.