Christian motivational speaker Justin Lookadoo was hired to deliver a thought-provoking speech to students at Richardson High School in Texas, but his address has instead sparked intense controversy.
Much of the contention surrounds gender-based information Lookadoo has on his website, where he lists advice for "dateable girls" and "dateable boys." Some students and parents believe that his proclamations are sexist and reinforce long-abandoned stereotypes.
Among the how-to tidbits for girls, Lookadoo writes, "Dateable girls know how to shut up. They don’t monopolize the conversation. They don’t tell everyone everything about themselves. They save some for later. They listen more than they gab."
Another tip reads, "God made guys as leaders. Dateable girls get that and let him do guy things, get a door, open a ketchup bottle. They relax and let guys be guys. Which means they don’t ask him out!"
On the dateable guys list, there are some other elements that add to the controversy. Lookadoo also says, "Dateable guys know they aren’t as sensitive as girls and that’s okay. They know they are stronger, more dangerous, and more adventurous and that’s okay. Dateable guys are real men who aren’t afraid to be guys."
While Lookadoo kept his theology out of the public school speech, his views on men and women led to some pretty intense scrutiny. Some students and parents reportedly complained before the speech even unfolded, taking their frustration over his appearance to social media and to Richardson High School.
School officials, though, allowed the show to still go on.
The Dallas Morning News reported that the speaker focused much of his hour-long talk on girls and relationships.
"The reason it’s so hard for you to succeed these days is not because of guys. You’re doing it to yourselves," he reportedly told girls.
"Somewhere between the modern church and the feminist movement, guys turned into pansies. Stand up and be a man! Do something with your life!," Lookadoo allegedly added for the boys in the audience.
Obviously, these messages didn't all go over well with some factions of the audience.
"I think it's promoting gender stereotypes that are incredibly dangerous and problematic in numerous ways." parent Jaime Clark-Soles told WFAA-TV.
After the speech, students approached Lookadoo and showered him with questions about his philosophy on boys and girls. Some even took to social media, where they voiced their outrage, as the Texas Freedom Network, a civil rights group, noted.
Here's just a few of those frustrated tweets:
Other students, though, thanked Lookadoo for his message and agreed with his sentiment.
Principal Charles Bruner sent a message to parents on Wednesday night apologizing if anyone took offense over Lookadoo's appearance. Bruner explained that it was never the intent of the school to upset anyone.
Lookadoo, who told WFAA-TV that he has delivered many speeches over the years, seemed stunned by the reaction of students who approached him after it concluded.
"I've done about 4,000 programs. That's never happened," he said.
The assembly, which was organized by the PTA, was optional for students to attend. Lookadoo last spoke at Richardson High School in 2009, so he was no stranger to the community. And despite being a faith-based speaker, Lookadoo regularly addresses secular public school audiences.
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