The Words of the Urban Family
Save Abstinence Education In DC (SAVE DC)
December 15, 2007
Abstinence Education is under attack in Washington, DC, and specifically, ULTRA Teen Choice has been targeted by activists and the School Chancellor's office. Please read the analysis and emails below to understand the underlying reasons for this attack.
We ask you to stand with the youth and parents of Washington DC and with ULTRA Teen Choice as SAVE DC (Save Abstinence and Values Education in DC) holds a rally and press conference on December 27, 2007 at 12 noon in front of Stuart-Hobson Middle School. The address is 410 E St. NE, Washington, DC 20002. You can walk from Union Station, which is on the Metro rail system Red line. This is an event with National level significance. Please do your best to support the event by attending, bringing others, donating and volunteering to help or to be a speaker. You can sign up to attend or help out at www.ultrateenchoice.org. By becoming part of this Coalition, you are supporting true abstinence education and working to preserve abstinence, values and family education for Washington DC youth.
For those in the DC area, an organizing meeting for the rally will be held on December 18th at 7:30 p.m. at the Urbans, in Washington, DC.
Please copy the rally flyer at www.ultrateenchoice.org/default.asp?contentID=629 and also copy the petition and continue to get petition signatures. We suggest inserting the rally flyer and petition in the bulletin for your church or house of worship. Leaders in Washington, DC need to hear loud and clear from many concerned citizens.
Please forward this email to your friends and contacts.
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Urban Life Training and Reality Assessment (ULTRA) Teen Choice
Mission: To provide education, peer counseling and clubs for youth that will empower them to be successful in life by choosing abstinence from sex outside of marriage and abstinence from drugs, alcohol and tobacco. We provide services to schools and youth serving organizations, including services by college students from nearby universities who support these values.
www.ultrateenchoice.org Watch I Am Abstinence Working at: www.ultrateenchoice.org/pages/i_am_abstinence.htm
Note: you can find the emails referred to below at www.ultrateenchoice.org/default.asp?contentID=629
Why has ULTRA Teen Choice been targeted by activists?
By Richard Urban
ULTRA Teen Choice (UTC) has operated at Stuart Hobson Middle School since 1999 as a program that offers classroom HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy prevention education. Since 2004 UTC has also offered peer counseling and the ULTRA Teen Choice Service Club to support youth who wish to remain sexually abstinent and drug free and to encourage other youth to do the same.
Mr. Leonard Booker, the health teacher at Stuart-Hobson during this entire period, has been a consistent supporter of the program. He has been present during all of our classroom presentations and peer counseling sessions to over 1000 7th and 8th grade youth. Furthermore, he has also monitored UTC Service Club meetings and activities.
ULTRA Teen Choice graduated from the Mayor's Office of Partnerships and Grants Development Strengthening Partners Initiative 2005 to 2006 class. During that class, the program underwent review by that program, including an onsite visit.
The ULTRA Teen Choice program has been reviewed by the DC Public Schools HIV/AIDS Education Office twice. We have partnered directly with that office to give HIV/AIDS prevention presentations at Kramer Middle School and McKinley Technology High School in conjunction with Linda Wright, former director of that office. In June of 2005 UTC received a glowing recommendation letter from that office.
What has changed that suddenly ULTRA Teen Choice is to be banned from all DC Public Schools for alleged, but as yet unspecified "Human Rights" violations?
One parent at Stuart-Hobson, Tina May, complained in an email sent to Principal Brandon Eatman in March of 2007 that "the list of the sponsors of the program included some religious groups". She also accused the founder, Richard Urban of being "intolerant of homosexuality", based on his editorial "Kangaroo ANC" on the UTC website. She also brought up Mr. Urban's affiliation with a church, and suggested people read some internet posts about his community ministry.
When asked about the existence of this email, Ms. May vigorously denied its existence. However, you can read it on the UTC website, www.ultrateenchoice.org.
According to the Washington DC Human Rights Act (2-1402.41), it is unlawful discriminatory practice for an educational institution "To deny, restrict, or to abridge or condition the use of, or access to, any of its facilities, services, programs, or benefits of any program or activity to any person otherwise qualified, wholly or partially, for a discriminatory reason, based upon the actual or perceived: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression, familial status, family responsibility, political affiliation, source of income, or disability of any individual; or 2) to make or use a written or oral inquiry, or form of application for admission, that elicits or attempts to elicit information, or to make or keep a record, concerning the race, color, religion, or national origin of an applicant for admission, except as permitted by regulation of the office."
Ms. May's inference that Mr. Urban's religion some how makes him unfit to operate a program in DC public schools is in complete violation of the letter and the sprit of the DC Human rights act.
Yet, to this day, Ms. May and the Local School Restructuring Team, (LSRT) of which she is the only parent representative from Stuart-Hobson Middle School, has never stated the reason why they recommend that the ULTRA Teen Choice program should be excluded other than saying through the Principal, Brandon ;Eatman "[the program] does not match the DCPS health standards and they do not want an abstinence only program at Stuart-Hobson". However, the LSRT refuses to say what standards are not being met.
In April of 2007, When Ms. May complained to the Principal, she asked that, at the last minute, an assembly for Abstinence Awareness week, that had already been reviewed by Assistant Principal Gonzales, be postponed. Dr. Wilhoyte, the assistant superintendent in charge of Stuart-Hobson, saw no problem with the program, and only said that parents should first receive permission slips. Therefore, the assembly was rescheduled.
Why was a local school matter elevated suddenly to the Chancellors' office? Simply because Ms. May and the LSRT could not get their way. She and the LSRT wished to continue on their unlawful campaign of discrimination. They found a listening ear in Dr. Richard Nyankori, the special assistant to Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Dr. Nyankori stated in an email to Principal Brandon Eatman on November 21, 2007 "The chancellor has placed a moratorium on all external providers of health and consumer education. Her goal is to ensure providers programs are consistent with DC standards." This is a false statement that has resulted in the cancellation of the ULTRA Teen Choice program at Stuart-Hobson Middle School and School Without Walls High School against the wishes of the Health Teachers, Parents, 40 students in three ULTRA Teen Choice service Clubs. There is no "moratorium on external health providers". ULTRA Teen Choice is the only program that has been affected by this action.
Chancellor Rhee has indicated in an email that she supports this decision. However, she has not yet answered questions about what the specific complaints of the LSRT committee are, and what the alleged violations of the DC Human Rights Act are. The Chancellor writes to ULTRA Teen Choice "we expect partners to be inclusive and affirming of all DCPS students and their families as described in the District's non-discrimination policy and Human Rights Act." Ironically, the Chancellor and her staff are denying access to an HIV/AIDS prevention program based on unspecified claims by persons who are clearly in violation of the DC Human Rights Act themselves.
What happened to the rights of those parents and students who want to receive this live saving information? What about the fact that over a two year period 16 percent more high school and 9 percent more middle school students said they were abstaining from sexual intercourse? Helping children succeed seems to have been pushed aside to promote another agenda. ULTRA Teen Choice welcomes all students to participate in its programs and clubs. Yet those who are pushing for the acceptance and discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation for middle school youth want to exclude programs that promote sexual abstinence and encourage the formation of two parent families.
A political agenda is interfering with valuable programs that can save children's lives and help them succeed. This situation needs to be corrected immediately, and Ms. Rhee needs to straighten out her priorities. The priority should be access to life saving programs for all parents and children who want them, not the promotion of a political agenda at the expense of vulnerable Washington DC youth.
Dear Ms. Rhee,
I am writing in response to your last email. I have a number of questions:
1) What are the "serious concerns" made by the Capitol Hill Cluster LSRT? Also, who are the "other concerned individuals". The LSRT has never stated any reason for not wanting the ULTRA Teen Choice Program at Stuart-Hobson Middle School, other than stating "their curriculum failed to meet the DC Standards at the time". What standards did it fail to meet? Our program has been reviewed multiple times by the DCPS HIV/AIDS office. See the attached letter. (Attached: Letter from Linda Wright).
2) What are the "organizational priorities" that ULTRA Teen Choice is not meeting?
3) Please specify exactly what the "concrete steps" we are supposed to take in response to the "areas of concern raised to my office" are. Your staff refused to put anything in writing.
4) What specific part of the Human Rights Act are you alleging that ULTRA Teen Choice is violating that makes ULTRA Teen Choice not "inclusive and affirming of all DCPS students and their families"? By denying access to the ULTRA Teen Choice program for youth who want to stay sexually abstinent and drug free, isn't DCPS being non inclusive of that (majority) group?
5) Please provide "the District's non-discrimination policy" (other that the Human Rights Act), and state specifically which part is allegedly being violated by ULTRA Teen Choice.
In fact, DCPS is violating my human rights. This is a clear case of religious discrimination. The only substantive communication from an LSRT member that we have, the email from Tina May, indicates that clearly. This is prohibited according to the Human Rights Act. (Attached: Tina May email)
Additionally, Dr. Nyankori made a false statement in denying the UTC program permission to continue operating at Stuart-Hobson. This statement, that "The chancellor has place a moratorium on all external providers of health and consumer education. Her goal is to ensure providers programs are consistent with DC standards." is false. If it is not false, please provide the text of this moratorium. This statement furthers the discrimination based on my religion that is being propagated by Tina May and the LSRT. (Attachment: Dr. Nyankori Email).
I ask you to repudiate the email sent by Jeremy Ogusky, a member of the team that worked on the proposed health education standards. It is clearly biased against abstinence education and ULTRA Teen Choice. If you are truly for abstinence education, then I ask you to state that he should not have been on the team, and to provide for more feedback from parents and community members so that language inclusive of abstinence education can by included in the proposed standards. See the petition text attached. I also ask you to remove Mr. Ogusky or any member of Metro Teenaids from future consideration for providing advice for any current or future. DCPS health related matters. (Attached: Metro TeenAIDS email) (Attached: Petition)
I am also perplexed that you have transferred the recommendation of a school level advisory board to all DCPS public schools. (and it is just that, a recommendation) Furthermore, the Capitol Hill Cluster LSRT is not operating according to DCPS guidelines. As of November 30 the LSRT did not have minutes in the Stuart-Hobson school office and library, as required by DCPS guidelines. I have also been unable to obtain a list of who is on the Capitol Hill Cluster Schools LSRT. Oddly, Principal Brandon Eatman tells me that he cannot provide a list, either. The committee only includes one parent member from Stuart-Hobson Middle School, which is the only school of the cluster affected by this recommendation. Are you indicating that one [person (Tina May), who is in violation of the DC Human Rights Act, can dictate policy for all DCPS schools and students? The committee does not represent the racial composition of the school either, and is therefore not culturally sensitive to the needs of the youth served. Furthermore, the committee did not seek the input of the larger school community, as required by LSRT guidelines. And again, it is very hard to tell what the LSRT is doing, since they do not have minutes available as required by DCPS guidelines. (Attachment: LSRT emails).
Finally, I ask you again to meet with parents and students who are active in the ULTRA Teen Choice program. You stated before the City Council on November 2, "I am convinced that we must not let the rights, privileges, and priorities of adults to take precedence over what is in the best interests of students. We cannot allow children to languish while we try to remediate adults. We cannot forsake their futures for adult issues in the present." A meeting with parents and students affected by this situation will help allay concerns that what you stated may not actually be true.
I look forward to your reply.
From: Rhee, Michelle (OOC)
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 6:12 PM
Subject: ULTRA Teen Choice
Dear Mr. Urban,
Thank you for your letter to me regarding the work of ULTRA Teen Choice. Partnership reviews stem from the authority vested in the chancellor, who has discretion in forming partnerships with outside entities per the DC Municipal Regulations and Statutes and supported by the District of Columbia Public Education Reform Act of 2007.
In reviewing any partnership it is my goal to ensure that organizations working with DCPS demonstrate that their programs are both beneficial to students and aligned with organizational priorities. Furthermore, we expect partners to be inclusive and affirming of all DCPS students and their families as described in the District's non-discrimination policy and Human Rights Act.
My staff met with you to understand better the serious concerns made by the Capitol Hill Cluster LSRT and those reported to my office by other concerned individuals. During the meeting, my representatives provided you with concrete steps to take to allay the concerns of the LSRT. To date, we have not received a response from you.
Therefore, I have decided to uphold the decision made by the LSRT to restrict you from DCPS schools both during the day and as an after-school program. My decision is based on your reluctance to specifically address the areas of concern raised to my office. I will work with the school community through my partnership office to identify other abstinence oriented programs to offer to the school.
I want to make it unequivocally clear that my decision is in no way based on a condemnation of abstinence. My decision is based on your refusal to provide the necessary information to my staff to overturn the LSRT's decision.