‘Easy girls…get dumped:’ KSD considers controversial speaker
Kennewick students and community debate on speaker
Kennewick students and community members are debating a scheduled presentation next month, some decrying its so-called controversial content.
Seniors were required to sign up for various Saturday activities and presentations to make up snow days and keep graduation scheduled for June 3.
One of the presentations listed is Brad Henning.
“Easy girls always get dumped,” Henning said in a YouTube video . “Is there any guy in this room that when you were a little kid, you could hardly wait to meet and marry the town slut? No guy wants that. In fact, it would be so easy to prove that guys are looking for the virgins.”
Henning is a speaker for youth audiences around the country. Founder of the program called Life Resources in Puyallup, Henning focuses on “healthy relationships.”
Henning has presented in the Tri-Cities several times, with mixed reviews. Some praise his humor and abstinence until marriage emphasis.
Others take issue with how he addresses differences between men and women.
“[They] aren’t modern, aren’t sticking by what we are today,” Southridge High School senior Jessica Churchill said.
Churchill signed up with her boyfriend to attend Henning’s tentatively scheduled April 15th presentation, following a brief description sent out by the Kennewick School District.
“Brad is one of the most humorous and engaging speakers we’ve ever had!” the letter said. “His presentation is…designed to teach young people what healthy relationships can be and how they can prepare themselves for future long-lasting and happy relationships and marriage.”
“I thought a lot of his statements to be pretty heteronormative and fairly stereotypical of men and women,” Churchill said. “As a Christian, I believe everybody should be loved equally.”
However, Churchill and her friends were not all in agreement.
“I never got that kind of vibe from any of his talks,” fellow senior Abby Beardsley said.
Beardsley has seen two of Henning’s presentations before at a church camp and youth group. She said Henning presents overall positive feedback.
“He just pushes healthy relationships,” she added. “And if that’s what you choose to do, then that’s what you should do, and this is how you do it.”
In that light, some of Henning’s online statements focus on empowerment, especially for girls to make their own choices.
“Because I don’t think girls are standing up for themselves and saying: ‘Look, I’m not gonna put up with that!” he said in a video . “If we’re not growing, if we’re not maturing, then the relationship is over.”
However, other students argued ideas presented are stereotypical.
“The number one thing I hear from girls about guys is they’re all jerks,” Hennings said in the same video . “And my question back to the girls is this: who taught them to be like that? And I think girls do.”
“That doesn’t sound like a good message about how to navigate a healthy relationship,” Richland resident Emily Richman said.
Richman has a master’s degree in mental health counseling, currently building toward her own practice.
She has a background in theater and comedy, offering KSD a free, science-based presentation as an alternative to Henning.
“Literally on his website, there is a list under the Q&A for the girls-only section about the turnoffs that boys have in girls,” Richman said. “And on the boys-only section, there is one entry, and it’s creative dating tips.”
A bio on Henning’s website does not list his specific educational background, simply stating he has a BA from Seattle Pacific University. Mental health is not mentioned.
Meanwhile, Kennewick seniors stressed Henning’s abstinence-only model does not work.
“Teenagers are engaging in sexual activity. And a guy standing up on the stage and telling them not to simply won’t work,” Southridge student Jesse Brinson-Wagner said. “We need to educate people about how to reduce that risk. Not only that there is one.”
Brinson-Wagner is openly gay and member of the Southridge Equality Club, advocating for students of all backgrounds. He and his friends said Henning glosses over students who aren’t straight or cisgender.
“Makes…people in our society invisible,” Richman agreed. “And imagine that message as a young person.”
In the meantime, the group of friends at Southridge said they are agreeing to disagree.
“You have to look into it and really make your own opinion about it,” Beardsley said.
The school district acknowledged the ongoing debate and said it is considering its options. A spokesperson told KVEW-TV the district would likely have a final decision on Henning’s presentation by late next week.
Phone and email messages to Mr. Henning for comment on this story were not immediately returned.
KENNEWICK, Wash. —