This week’s controversial presentations by speaker Justin Lookadoo at Richardson High School near Dallas have angered parents and students in that community. Many are speaking out about the offensive messages in his presentations as well as on his website.
Lookadoo markets assemblies to public schools that include offensive gender stereotypes (“dateable” girls “know when to shut up,” and “dateable” guys are “real men” who are “stronger and more dangerous” than girls) and are grounded in conservative religious dogma.
Join a growing number of Texans in calling on public schools across the state to “JUST SAY NO” to Lookadoo’s programs. Click here to sign the petition.
Rev. Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, a mother and theology professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, addresses her concerns about Lookadoo and his outrageous messages in a new article today on Huffington Post.
In addition, we have received permission from a Richardson mother to post an article by her daughter, Taylor Allen, a Richardson High School junior who attended one of Lookadoo’s presentations on Wednesday:
As a female student at Richardson High School, I was shocked and appalled by the misogynistic tirade I was subjected to at an assembly on the morning of November 13, 2013. Guest speaker, Justin Lookadoo, spoke to not one, but two packed auditoriums full of students, claiming the topic to be “Responsible Choices in Teen Dating.” He opened up with a “women can’t drive” joke, and while I expected to take a mature, serious turn from there, it did not. Girls were called “the most horrible, awful, and vindictive creatures this planet has ever seen,” and were pitted against one another, told that if they stood out and were themselves in any way, that other girls (and ONLY girls) were going to “stop at nothing to tear you down.” Girls weren’t the only ones who were targeted. Boys were told that “it’s not OK to be a nerd or someone who plays video games all the time. You guys are pathetic losers and silly dorks” and that feminism had made them “pansies.” How can a school as diverse as RHS pay such a bully to talk to their students and call it “motivation”?
There were plenty of warning signs that this gentleman was not an appropriate guest to invite to ANY high school, especially not Richardson, whose student body prides itself on its inclusiveness and diversity towards all students. His “R u dateable” quiz, and the rules attached to it, accessible from a simple Google search of his name, include such viciously gendered stereotypes as “God made men leaders,” “a dateable girl isn’t Miss Independent,” and the now-infamous “dateable girls know how to shut up.” His website also makes clear his opinions are rooted in his personal religious beliefs. While I fully appreciate and respect his ability and right to live by his own beliefs and wish for him to happily live by his own personal ideals of right and wrong, further digging reveals he does not seem to hold such a belief for myself, and other LGBT*Q people. He has been associated with the infamous “conversion therapy” group, Exodus International (as can be found here: http://www.exgaywatch.com/2006/11/christian-camps/ ) which has been condemned by the American Psychological Association. Even Exodus’ own president has shut down the organization and apologized for the “pain and hurt” it has caused. Is somebody associated with such a harmful group welcome in RHS’s famously tolerant environment? Does RHS approve of this man calling young men who respect women the derogatory term for homosexuals, “pansy”?
Regardless, the warning signs of his character and his behavior at the assemblies were ignored and excused three times. First when he was invited to speak, secondly when the cancellation of his presentation was overruled by the school at the last minute, and thirdly when he was allowed to repeat his sexist manifesto to a second group of students, this time more so. The action taken was too little, too late. Apologies were made via impersonal robocall to parents, as well as a letter to parents from an unapologetic PTA President and our misinformed Principal who was out of town on a family emergency during the whole debacle. Specifically, he stated that “As agreed, [Mr. Lookadoo] did not discuss [religion or the 'Rules of Dating'] during either presentation,” while it has been confirmed to me by several firsthand accounts that in his second rant, he specifically discussed both topics. I, personally, have yet to hear anything in the vein of an apology, nor have my fellow students. My mother was not made to sit and listen to a misogynist tell her that she was a “horrible, awful, and vindictive creature,” I was. A full and proper apology would be very much appreciated by both myself and my fellow students.
I applaud RHS students’ creative, if a touch crude, response to his sexism. This can be used as a learning experience to show students that opinions differ and can often be harmful to certain groups, in this case, women. Those who discussed his rant on social media were demonstrating an admirable sense of individualism and commitment to their personal morality. The outcry in response to this man’s bigotry has made me even more proud to be an RHS student.
I sincerely hope that Richardson High School and its PTA will consider more carefully its selection of guests in the future and will thoroughly ensure that there are no massive red flags indicating that future speakers are a danger to the student body’s collective psyche. I also hope that a system will be put in place to intervene, should a speaker demonstrate his incapability do demonstrate compassion towards all students.
Click here to sign the petition calling on Texas public schools to “JUST SAY NO” to Lookadoo’s programs.