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Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Program Leader Runs for District of Columbia City Council At-Large Seat

Richard Urban, an Independent who, according to campaign materials, comes from a background strongly rooted in “community affairs and volunteer ministries,”[1] is running for one of the two at-large seats on the Council of the District of Columbia in the November 2010 election. The council has 13 members, each with an office term of four years.[2]

On his campaign website, Richard Urban lays out a conservative, family-focused platform and his intentions if elected to the council. His campaign materials state, “I am for a DC where marriage is defined as being only between a man and a woman. I believe that Washington DC [stet] voters should be able to vote on this issue. I will work with my new council colleagues to bring the definition of marriage before the voters of Washington, DC.” Mr. Urban also says that he “wants to see sensible tax and social service policies that that give a full deduction for children and for couples who are married, as compared to just living together without marriage.”[3]
 
Beginning in 1997, Urban began providing abstinence-only-until-marriage presentations to youth in the District of Columbia, after being trained by Free Teens, a New Jersey/New York–based organization that “helps youth to focus on achieving their future dreams and avoiding the traps that could endanger their lives and goals by sharing messages of healthy relationships, self-leadership and service to others.”[4] In 2003, Mr. Urban and his wife, Stacey, founded the organization ULTRA (Urban Life Training and Reality Assessment) Teen Choice. The organization provides a peer education and mentoring program to youth that aims to “educate students about the benefits of abstinence in preparation for marriage and to encourage them to adopt a sexually abstinent and drug free lifestyle.”[5]
 
Urban stated in a recent campaign email to other abstinence-only-until-marriage advocates that he is “fighting for the right of youth to have programs that support them in their decision to stay sexually abstinent,” and has tried unsuccessfully for over five years to collaborate with the District of Columbia’s Department of Health to provide abstinence-only presentations. Mr. Urban also mentioned that it was “virtually impossible” to discover how Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding was spent in the DC school system, citing that the council was especially unhelpful with his inquiries.[6]
 
Prompted by the HIV/AIDS rate in Washington, DC—at least 3% of DC residents have HIV or AIDS, a total that far surpasses the one percent threshold that constitutes a “generalized and severe” epidemic—the mayor, the Office of the State Superintendent, and the District of Columbia State Board of Education have focused on providing comprehensive sexuality education as a core content area for DC students, which includes teaching them about abstinence and delaying sexual activity as well as information about contraception and a number of other topics. In 2007, the State Board of Education passed new health learning standards to include education about sex, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, condoms, birth control, and teen pregnancy.[7] After operating for four years within the public school system, Urban’s abstinence-only-until-marriage program was notified by the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) office that it was restricted from DCPS schools both during and after school hours, in large part due to the response of parents who asked school administrators not to allow Urban to continue his biased and fear- and shame-based programming in their kids’ schools.[8]
 
If elected, Richard Urban says that he will continue to fight for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in the school system and says that he is “for a DC where beginning in the 6th grade youth will be able to participate in a club that supports and encourages them in their desire to have a happy and successful future by staying abstinent from sex, drugs and alcohol.”[9]
 
 
 


[1] Richard Urban for DC, Staff, accessed17 June 2010, <http://www.rufordc.com//page/Biographies.aspx>.
[2] District of Columbia Council, The Council of the District of Columbia: An Introduction(2010), accessed 21 June 2010, <http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/aboutthecouncil>.
[3] Richard Urban for DC, Issues, accessed 17 June 2010, <http://rufordc.com/page/Issues.aspx>.
[4] Free Teens Leadership USA, About Us (2009), accessed 18 June 2010, <http://www.freeteensusa.org/FT_About_Us.html>.
[5] ULTRA Teen Choice, About Us,accessed on 18 June 2010, <http://www.ultrateenchoice.org/c_About_Us_597_English.htm>.
[6] Email correspondence from Richard Urban to Relationship-Intelligence@yahoogroups.com (16 May 2010(, accessed 16 June 2010.
[7] Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States,Poll Shows DC Parents Strongly Support Comprehensive Sex Education in Schools, accessed 21 June 2010, <http://www.siecus.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Feature.showFeature&featureid=1497&pageid=483&parentid=478>.
[8] ULTRA Teen Choice, Response to Michelle Rhee (2007), accessed 18 June 2010, <http://www.ultrateenchoice.org/c_Response_to_Michelle_Rhee_643_English.htm>.
[9] Richard Urban for DC, Issues, accessed 17 June 2010.

 

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