Friday FREAK OUT! #lookadouche gets called out by some gutsy Texas teens

OK, so picture this. You’re in high school, and you and your classmates are shepherded to an assembly. In your head you’re thinking, I could get a solid one-hour nap in, or sit next to my latest crush, or maybe, just possibly LEARN something. Instead, you are subjected to old-fashioned misogynistic views on gender and relationships. You are so outraged, that you turn to Twitter to express your opinions:

https://twitter.com/nirvanaerendali/status/400689296278966273

That’s right, the student body was clearly upset over speaker Justin Lookadoo’s presentation, and their commentary on Twitter using the hashtag #lookadouche captured national attention. NY Mag makes an excellent point right off the bat: “There’s nothing like a bunch of righteous teens to make you believe in the democratic power of Twitter again.”

So the high school students are freakin out, the parents are freakin out, the media is freakin out, the Richardson High School administration realized they should have been freakin out, and why? Because this guy should never have been giving his presentation in the first place, especially not with public dollars.

20131115-230907.jpgOne glance at his previous publications and website will reveal what many are calling sexist, creepy, religious leanings. Lookadoo is being strongly criticized for content on his website, such as his Datable Rules, such as, for girls, “Be mysterious. Dateable girls know how to shut up. They don’t monopolize the conversation. They don’t tell everyone everything about themselves. They save some for later. They listen more than they gab.” For the guys, rule No. 1 is, “Being a guy is good. Dateable guys know they aren’t as sensitive as girls and that’s okay. They know they are stronger, more dangerous, and more adventurous and that’s okay. Dateable guys are real men who aren’t afraid to be guys.” (I hope you’re freakin out just reading that!)

However, one Richardson High School student is right: Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, including Justin Lookadoo, regardless of the extent of our disagreement. Her post provides an excellent summary of why Lookadoo’s presentation was so egregious, but I think she was a tad forgiving at the end. We should judge him for presenting his opinions as information. Sure, he was sharing his opinions (and per the assembly agreement did NOT mention his dateable rules), but from the students’ accounts of the assembly he presented his opinions and ideas as factual statements in the context of an educational presentation on relationships and dating violence, and from what I have gathered from the other articles, he made blanket assumptions about an entire gender rather than providing examples of individual experiences. In contrast, a mindful, effective educator should present actual facts and engage their audience in critical thinking about cultural assumptions while also affirming individual expression of gender and sexual identity within a diverse range of experience. Granted, this is tough to do in a one-hour, school-wide assembly, so the complimentary recommendation is to engage youth in smaller groups so that meaningful discussion can help individuals come to their own conclusions about the topic. Take-home message for schools and educators: assemblies are not an effective method of learning about a complex topic such as relationships.

Props to those students for standing up, walking out, and calling this guy out. This is an excellent example of how freakin out can make change happen…people are calling for the cancelation of Lookadoo’s upcoming presentations, and I bet he doesn’t have another assembly any time soon.

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Friday FREAK OUT! Access to abortion services in Texas CUT OFF

Late last night, three republican judges (all appointed by former president George W. Bush) at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated legislation that requires Texas clinics offering abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles in order to perform abortions on-site. This ruling comes on the heels of the news on Monday that Judge Yeakal ruled that that part of the law was unconstitutional.

What does this mean? That abortion clinics are calling up patients and canceling appointments, and many clinics will be forced to close completely. Only 5 clinics out of the 42 in Texas meet the requirements of the new legislation, meaning that women will be forced to travel far to get the services they need. Some fabulous organizing efforts have already been put into place, such as Fund Texas Women, which is raising money to help give financial assistance for bus tickets and hotel stays for women. Texas Equal Access Fund (TEAFund) also helps women financially, and they are keeping us updated on closures and the status of clinics on their twitter feed and Facebook wall.

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While I am all about prevention and education, sometimes I have to turn my attention to policy, advocacy, rights, and services. You bet I’m freakin out about this one, and I hope others are too. Part of me wants to pack up my bag and join the efforts in Texas to elect Wendy Davis and help women regain their rights. I am so glad that women ARE mobilizing.

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So the takeaway for educators is that young people need to know how to access services, and what to do if those services are limited. One experiential educational activity could be giving each student a ‘profile’ of someone who needs a particular reproductive health service (including, but not limited to abortion), a city and state (not just Texas but maybe a variety of locations), and some life details (in school, job, health insurance coverage). Then assign them the task of finding a service provider, the cost of the service, the hours that they are available, the distance they will have to travel, the transportation method and cost, if they will need hotel/housing (and cost of that, too!), and how that will impact the rest of their life (do they need childcare for a child already in the family? will this force them to miss class? how will this affect their job?). This person could be a woman, or a man- maybe it’s the boyfriend, the brother, or the father of someone who needs these services. After they have found the information, pair up with another person and compare notes. In having to find the information, the participants will learn not just what services are (or aren’t) available, but HOW to access them. Just remember, the goal isn’t to scare them or make them afraid of needing an abortion, it’s to prepare them for accessing services they (or someone they know) may need in the future. They will also hopefully learn the value of laws that ensure ACCESS to reproductive health services. (BTW, this may already be a more polished lesson plan that someone has written and published. If that’s the case, please share that info!)

Texas isn’t the only state affected by these egregious laws, but it’s certainly getting lots of attention. I hope that we can use this opportunity to bring to light the negative impact of all sorts of TRAP laws that reduce access to vital reproductive health services across the US.