A speaker whose dating advice has drawn criticism, concern and applause across the nation may appear at Kennewick High School.
The school district recently sent out a letter listing Brad Henning, based in Puyallup, as one of the options available for Saturdays seniors need to make up to keep graduation on June 3.
Depending on the school, students were given between two and four options for the presentation.
Henning’s proposed April 15 presentation, titled “Don’t Take Love Lying Down,” is designed to teach youth about healthy, long-lasting and happy relationships, the letter said.
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“He also describes the differences between men’s and women’s needs and how they feel and communicate about life, love and relationships,” the letter said.
Robyn Chastain, director of communications and public relations, said the activity choices are not finalized.
“Some community members have shared their concerns with us about this particular speaker, and those concerns will be discussed this week with our high school administrators,” she said.
They expect to have more information about the schedule by the end of the week, she said.
A proponent for teaching teens to avoid sex until they are married, Henning has traveled across the country making his presentation for roughly 20 years.
He formed his nonprofit organization, Life Resources, in 1994 with the goal of teaching teens about building healthy relationships.
While Henning has attracted some attention for his support of abstinence-only sex education, it’s his explanations about the differences between men and women that have generated the biggest controversies.
Some community members have shared their concerns with us about this particular speaker, and those concerns will be discussed this week with our high school administrators
Robyn Chastain, director of communications and public relations
A group of students at Hanford High School and a nonprofit agency in 2013 described his views as outdated, letting boys shirk responsibilities for their actions.
The students wanted students to be informed about what they were required to attend, they told the Herald.
Some opponents were concerned that Henning relied on stereotypes of men as clueless and women as controlling. They noted that his material doesn’t address issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students.
The Domestic Violence Services of Benton and Franklin Counties set a letter to the district to protest the visit.
The letter said Henning’s presentation reinforced “dangerous gender expectations and stereotypes” and “fails to include information about what to do if their relationship is unsafe.”
At the time, the high school, district officials and student government supported his appearance. A student leader proposed bringing him to campus after seeing his presentation at a Key Club conference.
A 2016 appearance in Payson, Ariz., generated controversy after he held three assemblies. The first was a general assembly held for the entire school. The next day, he held a mandatory session for girls during the school day, and a voluntary session for boys after school, The Arizona Republic reported.
Many parents and community members found the assemblies sexist, while some students called the experience helpful — if old-fashioned — according to the Republic’s story.
Critics claim Henning’s talks shift the blame for sexual assault to women by saying men aren’t responsible for their sexual urges.
While Henning’s website does state that young men are interested in sex, it does not include any comments about rape.
Henning declined to comment for this story.