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Controversial Dating Tips

Motivational Speaker's Controversial Dating Tips Outrage Dallas High School

We're happy to present this article from our partners at Yahoo! Shine:

A 30-second quiz, "Are You Dateable?" on Christian motivational speaker Justin Lookadoo's website, which is geared toward teens, provided me with some harsh results: "U R not dateable," it concluded. Luckily for me, I'm a grown woman and married, but some kids and parents at Richardson High School, outside Dallas, Texas, are outraged by this and what they call an anti-girl message that Lookadoo gave to students on Wednesday.

Related: First Date Conversations: Five Things You Should Say (and What You Can Learn)

Lookadoo, who gives talks at schools and to church youth groups nationally, was invited to speak by the Parent Teacher Association. His website includes separate lists for girls and boys on being dateable. The girls' list offers advice such as "Be mysterious. Dateable girls know how to shut up." Also on the list: "You're a girl. Be proud of all that means. You are soft, you are gentle, you are a woman. Don't try to be a guy." The boys' list says, "Men of God are wild, not domesticated. Dateable guys aren't tamed. They don't live by the rules of the opposite sex."

During his speech, titled, "Dateable, It's a Character Thing," some students heckled him and others took to Twitter to challenge his message. One student tweeted, "[Lookadoo] will fade but Sexism, misogyny, and discrimination are still a thing which is why it's important to stand up to this." Another asked, "So I need to believe in my beauty but men just need to believe in themselves?"

Read on for more.

One parent, Jaime Clark-Soles, an ordained minister and professor at Southern Methodist University, says her 16-year-old daughter, Chloe, returned home after the event deeply offended. "This person was brought in and given access to thousands of students to speak about dating and relationships—including sex—and he has absolutely no professional credentials to do this in a school setting," she tells Yahoo Shine. "It's highly problematic and needs to be investigated." She adds that his message was so gender-biased it also made her extremely concerned for the LGBT kids in the audience who are, as she points out, "statistically more vulnerable to depression and suicide." She says it's shocking that she had to sign a permission slip for her daughter to listen to a televised speech by President Barack Obama during school hours but had no advance warning about Lookadoo's program besides a "robocall to the home phone five minutes before the event saying that my daughter could opt out of going."

On Wednesday night, Richardson High School Principal Charles Bruner sent a voicemail message to parents saying, "It was not the intent to offend anyone, and I apologize to those who were."

Lookadoo says his message is being misinterpreted. "One of the mothers who wasn't at the program said I promote rape culture," he tells Yahoo Shine. "[I say,] 'Girls, if you are ever in an abusive relationship, if he calls you fat…if he lays a hand on you, get out of it. That's empowerment." He says his basic message to teens is, "Girls, do not compromise who you are to get a date. Guys, stand up and be men. Don't just sit there playing video games, do something with your life." He adds that the students who challenged his views after the event weren't objecting to the actual content of the program but to some of the messages on his website. He added that after more than 4,200 school speaking engagements, "I've never had this kind of a reaction."

One of the comments during the program that particularly disturbed Clark-Soles was Lookadoo's assertion that, "girls are the most vindictive creatures on the Earth." He acknowledged he does use this rhetoric in his speeches to public school teenagers. "Girls are the most horrible, vindictive people this planet has ever seen," he tells Yahoo Shine. He claims that in his programs when he says this, "every grown woman in the room nods her head, because they have to deal with girls' drama." He continues, “At any level, if you are a woman, there are a lot of women who are going to rip you down.” Although he says he preaches a message of empowerment, it's hard to find the girl power message in that statement.

—Sarah B. Weir

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