Scottish Conservatives have called for the withdrawal of a  controversial school pupils' census where children are asked "intrusive" questions about sex.

Parents have raised questions about the content of the government's Health and Wellbeing Census, which asks pupils as young as 14 intimate questions on their sexual activity.

It comes after the Herald revealed eight of Scotland's 32 local authorities have refused to take part in the census amidst calls for a boycott over use of its explicit questions.

One question - aimed at pupils in S4 and S6 - says: “People have varying degrees of sexual experience. How much, if any, sexual experience have you had?”

Multiple choice answers include “oral sex” and “vaginal or anal sex”.

It also asks how many people they have had sexual intercourse with in the past 12 months.

There are further concerns that while being circulated as an anonymous survey "for research purposes only", it is not totally confidential.

The Herald:

The Herald on Sunday revealed that if local authority analysts see any answers of concern they can take action to help kids concerned and the identity of the children will be sought.

The approach has drawn comparisons with the “named person” scheme, which was withdrawn by the Scottish government after parts of it were ruled by the Supreme Court to be unlawful.

The Scottish Conservatives said the school survey must be withdrawn.

Meghan Gallacher, the Scottish Conservative children’s spokeswoman, has called on the Scottish government to withdraw the survey and remove its “inappropriate” questions. “Whatever its original intentions were, it’s clear that this census is not fit for purpose,” she said. “Parents have raised concerns about privacy, and the nature of the personal information being gathered by the state.

“A number of questions are overly intrusive and inappropriate for children to answer. Adults would be uncomfortable answering them, so it’s difficult to grasp why anyone thought they were suitable for younger people.”

A Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has written to the Shetland Islands Council to ask if pupils will be sent a controversial Scottish government census into health and wellbeing.

He said he has written to the education department about the “totally inappropriate” survey saying it was “remarkable” that the government thought the survey was acceptable.

“I would hope that a decision has been made to either withdraw from the survey, or at the very least ensure that those inappropriate questions are removed and any concerns over privacy addressed," he said.

“However, it is disappointing, given this survey comes directly from the Scottish government in Edinburgh, that SNP ministers themselves have not listened to the concerns of parents and taken the decision to withdraw it.”

Shetland Council said it had not distributed the survey to children and said it was "discussing the survey currently".

Details of the questionnaire has been heavily restricted. 

One parent who asked for details of the questions being asked to S4, S5 and S6 pupils in the City of Dundee, was turned down three days ago. The council said the intention was to publish no later than 12 weeks after the request. 

One parent raised concerns with West Lothian Council which responded saying:  “All of the heads of service for education reviewed the questions which formed this national health and wellbeing survey, and we too had concerns.

"Therefore we contacted Scottish Government and said that we would not be issuing this survey as it currently stands. Local authorities were told that they could make limited changes however this was not sufficient in our opinion given the level of details being requested and lack of clarity over parental consent.

“I hope that helps to allay any worries.”

“I trust this information clarifies the position at West Lothian Council."

The council is one of eight that have refused to participate. The others are Falkirk, East Lothian, Midlothian, Aberdeenshire, North Lanarkshire,  Aberdeen and Highland.

Twelve councils have said they are reviewing its content - East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, Argyll and Bute, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, Shetland, Fife, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, Scottish Borders, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

The ten local authorities that are distributing the census are Glasgow City, Perth and Kinross, Stirling, Angus, South Ayrshire, Moray, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, Dumfries and Galloway and Renfrewshire.

City of Edinburgh Council is distributing it having excluded questions "that we felt would present difficulties".