Response to Board of Education comments and additional information 

By Richard Urban, ULTRA Teen Choice Executive Director 

In response to questions or comments by Board of Education Members regarding my testimony at the hearing on November 28, 2007, plus additional comments. 

1. Mary Lord, regarding use of out of date YRBSS statistics saying that more DC youth are abstaining: As a later witness later pointed out, the data used is the most recent data, and the data referred to by Ms. Lord is a preview of national data, not Washington, DC data. 
This is an instance of attempting to discredit data that clearly disproves a preconceived idea (i.e. “Abstinence doesn’t work”. In fact, abstinence always works, for those who practice it. 

2. Lisa Raymond, regarding my statement that “the draft standards require discussion of sexuality and sexual orientation that does not reflect the values of the majority of the parents and students served.” A case in point is to examine who testified at the hearing. Special interest groups were heavily represented, but Washington DC public school parents were very under represented. Consider this; the panel of “experts” consisted of five Caucasian women and one African American woman, exactly opposite of the racial composition of the DC public schools. In reviewing the list of those testifying, there was one public school teacher, and very few public school parents (two of them were from the Capitol Hill Cluster Schools, and both involved in the effort to eject the ULTRA Teen Choice program from Stuart-Hobson Middle School). I do not recall even one African American public school parent testifying! This is hardly representative of those being served by DCPS, the large majority of whom are African American. We need to hear from the parents regarding these proposed standards. 

More time must be allowed for community input. The Board should delay the vote on these standards until next year. Why is there such a hurry to pass the proposed standards, when sufficient community input has not been garnered? I challenge the board to publicize proposed standards 6.1.6, 7.1.7, 8.1.5, 8.1.6, and 9.1.5. (See the attached description of these standards). Do a survey of 500 parents from middle and high schools throughout the city chosen randomly and see how many agree with the standards. That would be an honest way to gauge how well the proposed standards reflect community values. 

3. Testimony by the “experts”. Several said that all major medical association support so called “comprehensive” sex education. That is false statement. The Medical Institute for Sexual Health Supports directive abstinence education, as do many other medical associations. 

4. “Comprehensive” sex education includes extensive teaching about abstinence. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, some “Comprehensive Curricula refer to condoms 495 times, and to abstinence only 50 times. That is not a balanced viewpoint. Furthermore, reference was made to how the proposed standards talk extensively about abstinence. I can find no reference to abstinence after the 6th grade. You can view the Department of Health and Human Services study at 

5. No Board member asked why ULTRA Teen Choice had been booted out of Stuart-Hobson Middle School. As proponents of more “choices” for students, why is no one concerned about the denial of the choice of youth who want to stay abstinent? 

6. Directive abstinence education is just that; sexual health education that directs youth toward making the best choice for their future. It is not “abstinence only”, whatever that means. In reality, as a directive abstinence program, ULTRA Teen Choice covers many areas, including relationship skills, avoidance of other risk behaviors, such as drug, alcohol and tobacco use, goal setting, and modeling positive values to peers. 

7. There are many risks related to sexual activity for adolescents Sexually active teen boys and girls are much more likely to use alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and other drugs, run away be arrested by the police, or suspended from school. Additionally, sexually active teen girls have a two or three times higher risk to be lonely, upset, or tense, and a six times higher risk to consider hurting themselves and to attempt suicide. Condom use will not protect against any of these dangers, but being sexually abstinent will. 

In conclusion, let’s look out for the best interest of our youth, not narrow political interests. As one woman testified, stop using Washington DC youth as political pawns for social experiments. These precious children’s lives are at stake. Are you listening to the children and their parents, or to special interest groups? The vote on these proposed standards must be delayed until much greater community input can be gathered. The proposed standards must not be adopted as written. It is interesting to note that both of the witnesses for the Foreign Language standards also said that passing the standards would actually result in more confusion than having no standards. Yet not one Board of Education member responded clearly that they would delay the voting so that these problems could be addressed. Why is the Board rushing ahead when there are serious problems with multiple sets of proposed standards?

Hidden Agenda for new District of Columbia proposed Health Education Standards


    Activists hope that the DC Board of Education will adopt new Health Education Standards that will effectively ban programs that do not adhere to these standards from DC public schools. This has already happened at Stuart-Hobson Middle School, where ULTRA Teen Choice has been ordered to stop its directive HIV/AIDS prevention program that provides education, peer support and mentoring for youth wishing to refrain from drugs, alcohol and sex before marriage. 
    A memo sent form the Local School Restructuring Team (LSRT), who’s only parent member from Stuart-Hobson is an activist against the ULTRA Teen Choice program says “Certainly, there is no chance that they [ULTRA Teen Choice] will meet the new standards when adopted”. 
   An email received on November 21 by ULTRA Teen Choice from Richard Nyankori, Special Assistant to School Chancellor Michelle Rhee says “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.” A request for the text of this moratorium has not been answered. It appears that this is an effort to selectively eliminate targeted programs. If this turns out to be true, it is certainly an abuse of power. 

   Several important issues are involved here: 
1) How does eliminating programs that provide education, mentoring and peer and adult support for youth who desire to stay abstinent serve the best interests of Washington DC youth? 

2) Since this does not serve the best interest of youth and their parents, whose interest is it serving? 

3) Is there a hidden agenda and campaign underway by those promoting the addition of discussion of gender identity, sexual orientation, and contraception for 6th, 7th and 8th grade youth, and discussion of the availability of abortion for 9th grade youth is to deny students the choice to have a program that encourages and supports them in their decision to stay abstinent? 

4) Why should students and parents who want a program to support youth in staying abstinent from sex before marriage be denied that program when the program has been operating successfully at the school for four years without any problem? 

5) Should the LSRT influence curricular and extra-curricular choices for a particular subject area at Stuart-Hobson Middle School, especially when most of its members do not represent Stuart-Hobson, and the composition of the LSRT is also not racially representative of the school? Is this an abuse of the purpose of the LSRT? Was any input gathered from the larger Stuart Hobson parent community on this issue? 
   As a case in point, on November 21, which was supposed to be the last day of the ULTRA Teen Choice (UTC) Program at Stuart-Hobson due to the above mentioned cancellation, the UTC Club meeting for 7th grade youth was suddenly cancelled. Why? Apparently, one of the 8th grade UTC Club members who had heard in the 8th grade Club meeting that the program was cancelled must have asked one of the other students whose parent is opposing the program why her parent is doing that. This student must have then called their parent. Within minutes, the Principal had received a text message from this parent, and I was informed by telephone to not enter the building except for a scheduled meeting with the Principal the following week. Should one parent have this kind of influence over activities that benefit many other youth? 

   It is ironic that those who promote more “choices” for youth are actually denying the choice of youth who want to remain sexually abstinent.

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.



Richard Urban
Executive Director


From: Rhee, Michelle (OOC) [mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 6:12 PM
To: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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 afterschool 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.


Michelle Rhee


The Real Deal About Discrimination in Washington DC 

By Richard Urban 

Abstinence stigma is a term coined by Martin Ssempa, an HIV/AIDS prevention educator in Uganda. It means that children who are staying abstinent are made to feel that there is something wrong with them if they are abstinent.

This term can aptly be applied to DC youth and the adults supporting them as they are made to feel that there is something wrong with helping youth to stay sexually abstinent and drug free.

Dr. Richard Nyankori has decided to selectively eliminate the ULTRA Teen Choice program based on his personal bias against directive abstinence programs. This is indicated by the fact that he falsely issued a statement on November 21st saying “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.” In fact, no such moratorium exists. Therefore, Dr. Nyankori issued a false statement that has resulted in the cancellation of the ULTRA Teen Choice program at Stuart-Hobson Middle school.

Chancellor Rhee apparently hopes the whole thing will go away. She has not responded to requests by the media for clarification of this “policy”, and cannot, since it does not exist. Furthermore, she has so far ignored my request for clarification of the following blatantly discriminatory statements that Dr. Nyankori and Chad Ferguson made in a meeting with me on December 5. Their statements included the following points:

1) Since ULTRA Teen Choice is opposed to discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in middle school, we will not be approved by the chancellor’s office. 
2). Abstinence Programs that comply with Title V of the Welfare Reform act of 1996 will not necessarily be allowed to operate in DC Public Schools.
3) A wholly elective club for youth who want to stay abstinent will not necessarily be allowed in DC public schools either. 

All of the above are based on the fact that, apparently, ULTRA Teen Choice does not pass an unwritten litmus test applied by Dr. Nyankori. When requested to put these policies in writing, Dr. Nyankori only says that the Chancellor can choose to approve or disapprove whatever programs she likes. 

A political agenda has now resulted in the cancellation of the ULTRA Teen Choice program at Stuart-Hobson Middle School, and possible cancellation at other locations. This is happening at the very same time that the latest HIV/AIDS surveillance report shows that Washington DC has a 33 per cent higher rate of persons living with AIDS compared to the next highest city, which is Baltimore. The District has the highest rate of people living with AIDS of all major cities in the United States. 

The City Council must act now to end this blatant discrimination and abuse of power. We must not allow political games to be played when children’s lives are at stake. 


Dear Ms. Rhee, 

Hello. My name is Richard Urban. I am the co-founder and Executive Director of ULTRA Teen Choice, a youth empowerment program that guides youth toward the formation of two parent families and positive character development by emphasizing the benefits of abstinence from drugs, alcohol, and sex before a committed lifetime monogamous relationship, such as marriage. We serve schools, community based and faith based organizations. 

The program provides HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy prevention education plus character development education. ULTRA Teen Choice peer counselors inform other youth at their school about why abstinence matters. College STAR Guide mentors who share a commitment to positive values help lead weekly or biweekly ULTRA Teen Choice Service Club meetings to support youth in their decision to make right choices. 
The ULTRA Teen Choice (UTC) program has successfully operated at several District of Columbia public school since 2003. The UTC program has been reviewed twice and approved by the District of Columbia Public Schools HIV/AIDS office. Recently, our program was suddenly barred from operating at Stuart-Hobson Middle School after four successful years of operation there. The matter was referred by Principal Brandon Eatman to Dr. Richard Nyankori. Dr. Nyankori met on Friday, November 30 with 6 parents of students who are or have been ULTRA Teen Choice participants plus five students who are in the program. He said that he would give you a full report of the situation, and I assume that he has. I gave him a packet of letters that students wrote about how they benefit from the program, and I will be glad to give that to you if you have not seen it The parents spoke clearly about how their children benefit from the program, and our faculty advisor, Mr. Leonard Booker also attended the meeting and shared about how valuable the program has been for the students. 

Ironically, I attended a follow-up meeting with Dr. Nyankori yesterday at 4:30 p.m. At the same time, you were meeting with one of our ULTRA Teen Choice students, Delonte Moore from Eastern Senior High School. What is ironic is that Dr. Nyankori and Chad Ferguson stated that you would not approve our program’s operating in DC public schools since I have expressed publicly that I do not support the appropriateness of including the discussion of several points in the proposed Health Standards that deal with gender identify and sexual orientation. If this is true, DeLonte Moore and other outstanding participants in the UTC program will no longer benefit from the program.

Dr. Nyankori said that although they hear that the work that we do is excellent, especially by having youth counsel their peers about the benefits of sexual abstinence, we will not be welcome in DC Public Schools. When asked for the specific reason, he only says that you will not approve of it because of my views about the inappropriateness of the topics just mentioned. Is that correct? 

Your staff also stated that programs that meet Title V Federal Criteria for abstinence education programs will not necessarily be welcome in DC Public Schools. Is that correct, as well?

And they stated that even as a completely elective program (such as the ULTRA Teen Choice Service Club part of our program) we would not be welcome if we do not meet the above stated “litmus test”. Is that correct, too? 

Could you please clarify if the above three points accurately reflect your position? If so, by what means will you judge whether each of the dozens of providers of programs offered to DC public students meet this “litmus test”. Are there any other criteria that you might use to disallow people from working in the DC Public Schools? How will you determine what people’s personal or organizational views are? Will there be some test? Who will make this determination. How will it be decided which views are acceptable, and which are not? 

Which other organizations have been subjected to this seemingly discriminatory review? Will you also give a “litmus Test” to the Best Friends program, or Project Reality, or any other programs?

I also request that you meet with concerned parents and students who participate in our program. 
Thank you for your attention. 


Richard Urban Contact: 202-544-5081