Parents support of abstinence-only

Miami Examiner/December 28, 2007

Washington - Cynthia Glymph's 10th-grade daughter was so positively affected by an abstinence-only program while in middle school that she's trying to get her current high school classmates to participate, Glymph said.

That level of satisfaction is why the D.C. mother spoke out during a Thursday rally to protest the expulsion of the program, ULTRA Teen Choice, from two District public schools.

About a month ago, school officials responded to parents who did not like the program and ruled that ULTRA Teen would no longer be allowed at Stuart Hobson Middle School and School Without Walls - causing ULTRA leaders to mobilize. Three other D.C. schools still have the program.

Program leaders have made their concerns public and asked Mayor Adrian Fenty to reconsider.

"They say it takes a village to raise our kids, and sometimes that village comes in the form of groups like ULTRA Teen Choice," said Teri Robinson, another parent who supports the program.

Opponents have come down against ULTRA co-founder Richard Urban because of his involvement in the Unification Church. Urban insists that his abstinence-focused programs are strictly secular and in many cases optional in participating schools.

Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's ban of ULTRA Teen Choice came as state education board members considered and passed new health education guidelines.

Her office hasn't explained the specific reason why the program doesn't fit in, other than in an e-mail in which Rhee says there are "serious concerns" about ULTRA Teen Choice.

"I want to make it unequivocally clear that my decision is in no way based on a condemnation of abstinence," Rhee wrote. "My decision is based on your refusal to provide the necessary information to my staff to overturn the LSRT's [local school resource team's] decision."

The new health curriculum addresses abstinence as well as methods of protecting against sexually transmitted diseases, gender identification and tolerance toward people of varying sexual orientations.

Urban said he believes the administration wants him to make a public statement supportive of homosexuality, which he's not ready to do.

"The goal-setting and refusal skills are beneficial for all students," he said. "We don't discriminate against anyone."

Fenty said in a statement that the chancellor's team is "looking closely at external groups that have been working with District students to ensure effective, high-quality instruction."

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