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.
You can submit comments on these standards to Beverley Wheeler at Beverley.email@example.com. A hearing will be held on November 28th at 441 4th St. NW in the Old Council Chambers beginning at 5:30 p.m. You can sign up to testify by calling Beverley Wheeler at 202-741-0884..
Richard Urban is the director of ULTRA Teen Choice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and the website is www.ultrateenchoice.org.