KSD votes 3-2 to keep speaker Brad Henning

KSD votes 3-2 to keep speaker Brad Henning

The Kennewick School District board voted 3 to 2 Wednesday evening to keep Brad Henning as an optional speaker for Kennewick senior students.

Henning is one of several options presented to students for a Saturday, April 15 snow make up day.

The Puyallup-based presenter travels the country speaking to teens about healthy relationships. However, his website and videos have stirred debate.

He is heard in one video using the terms ‘easy girls’ and ‘town slut,’ when describing challenges facing teens who might engage in sexual behavior.

Dozens of protesters showed up at the board meeting to voice dissent to Henning’s approach, while many others who have seen Henning in person said video snippets took a positive message out of context.

Students who have seen Henning at various churches, youth groups and schools overwhelmingly said Henning’s focus is treating others with respect. Several instructors, both with KSD and local religious schools, voiced similar feelings.

Another religious leader disagreed, saying Henning’s rhetoric is outdated and hurtful.

Board members Dawn Adams and Heather Kintzley both voiced hesitation at letting Henning speak at a school function. They acknowledged the overall positive takeaway by many in the audience, but said his views on women might best be presented outside a school event.

Other members on the board did not outright disagree, but said it was worth having Henning speak and to let people decide if they wanted to go or not. They emphasized the desire for free speech and to share different viewpoints.

Following the decision, Adams and Kintzley requested the board consider at least one other alternative speaker or event for students to choose. The board collectively voiced some informal options and said it would consider them.

About a hundred people voiced their opinions of Henning before the decision, many in stark disagreement.

Some detailed traumatic experiences of feeling degraded by Henning. Supporters said his presentations helped them and their loved ones become better, more respectful people.

After the public meeting concluded, dozens with opposing views greeted each other and shook hands.