Last summer, Donald Trump promised "to protect our LGBTQ citizens."

The assurance — seemingly the first time LGBTQ rights were acknowledged by a nominee at a Republican National Convention — came as a sigh of relief to some LGBTQ people and allies hoping for continued progress on queer rights, even in the event that Trump would win the election: Could lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans finally have a Republican ally in the White House?


To find out if Trump's promise held up, let's recap the first five months of his presidency as it pertains to LGBTQ rights:

1. Trump rescinded federal bathroom protections for transgender students.

Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

With Trump's approval, the Justice and Education Departments rejected guidelines suggested under President Barack Obama that allowed trans students across the country to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender.

The reversal gives state and local officials more sway in forcing kids to use the bathroom that aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth — a move that puts them even more at risk of violence.

2. Trump stopped data collection on LGBTQ seniors, making it difficult to know if and how certain programs affect them.

Photo by Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images.

The Trump administration pulled questions relating to sexual orientation and gender identity from an annual survey given to seniors by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The data collection is crucial in pinpointing where and how federal dollars should be spent on programs benefiting older Americans, NBC News reported, and could negatively affect services like transportation, caregiver support, and home-delivery meals for LGBTQ seniors.

3. Trump has surrounded himself with blatantly homophobic and transphobic officials with huge influence over policy.

Trump with Mike Pence. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

Bringing years of abhorrent views on LGBTQ people and their rights to Washington, Trump's cabinet truly does showcase a remarkable collection of bigotry, Michelangelo Signorile reported in The Boston Globe.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' family foundation has donated millions of dollars toward groups solely focused on slashing LGBTQ rights. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price called Obama's transgender-inclusive policies "absurd." Attorney General Jeff Sessions has an "alarming record on LGBTQ equality," according to the Human Rights Campaign, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson once compared sex between people of the same gender to bestiality and pedophilia.

While he was governor of Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence signed a bill into law allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ patrons based on religious beliefs and supported conversion therapy — a form of child abuse — for LGBTQ children.

Unsurprisingly, none of these people have showed signs of changing their beliefs on LGBTQ rights since taking office.

4. Trump's messaging and America-first fiscal priorities are emboldening anti-LGBTQ movements around the world.

Photo by Kirll Kudrjavtsev/AFP/Getty Images.

The "Trump Effect," as The Daily Beast coined it, is empowering hate groups worldwide — not only in regions like the Caribbean and Latin America, but in even the most LGBTQ-friendly countries, like the Netherlands and the U.K., according to OutRight International.

What's more, whatever budget passes through a GOP House and is signed by the president will likely slash tens of millions of dollars in funding for programs that prevent HIV transmission and protect LGBTQ people from persecution overseas.

5. Trump has done nothing to stop — or even condemn — the mass arrests and murders of gay, bisexual, and transgender men in Chechnya.

Photo by John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images.

Since April, at least 100 LGBTQ men have been arrested, tortured, and even killed by law enforcement — all while the Chechen government refuses to acknowledge LGBTQ people even exist there.

Many world leaders have spoken out against the atrocities. Not Trump.

6. Trump signed an executive order allowing for more leniency in letting churches get political.

Trump visits a Las Vegas church in October 2016. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

In early May, Trump signed an executive order that eased guidelines prohibiting churches from being politically active, Reuters reported. With the move, pastors and religious figures can more freely endorse political candidates without losing their tax-exempt status — a move that could result in more anti-LGBTQ political rhetoric being spewed from the pulpit.

And the order doesn't stop there.

7. Trump has allowed certain religious organizations to discriminate when it comes to health care provisions for LGBTQ employees.

Photo by Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images.

Under the same executive order, religious groups can now more easily deny health insurance to employees when the care conflicts with their beliefs. A Christian charity group, for example, could legally refuse to cover certain drugs related to HIV prevention or the costs associated with gender confirmation surgery for a trans person.

That is, Rabbi Denise L. Eger wrote for NewNextNow, "private health decisions between an individual and their medical team will be affected by the religious views of their employer."

8. Trump is fighting for health care reform that would force thousands of HIV-positive people off their care.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

LGBTQ Americans (particularly gay and bisexual men of color and trans women) have been disproportionately affected by the AIDS epidemic, which is why moves by the GOP to overhaul the Affordable Care Act is setting off alarm bells for advocates everywhere.

Behind closed doors, Republicans are drafting a health care bill that will likely reverse the bulk of key Obamacare provisions. Earlier legislative efforts suggest the bill, if passed, could decimate our progress on defeating HIV/AIDS by dismantling the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion and making certain HIV drugs inaccessible to those who need them most.

Trump's complete disregard for prioritizing a national strategy on the issue is one big reason why a number of experts just resigned from the White House's HIV/AIDS advisory panel.

"As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care," the experts penned for Newsweek on June 16.

9. Trump's education department is scaling back civil rights investigations, hurting kids who are transgender in the process.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Photo by Manel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The Washington Post reported on June 17 that the Department of Education is dropping a consequential discrimination case involving a trans student in Ohio who was harassed by teachers and students and barred from using the bathroom that corresponds with her gender.

Because Trump rescinded federal guidelines protecting trans students in February (see #1 on this list), the department reversed its decision to deem the school's actions as discriminatory, officials said.

It may be just one case — but it's indicative of an even more worrying big picture. The move is part of a larger shift away from enforcing civil rights laws through the department, and that change in attitude and policy is one the Ohio student's advocates are calling "dangerous" for LGBTQ students nationwide.

10. Trump is quietly removing mentions of LGBTQ people and their rights on federal webpages.

[rebelmouse-image 19527403 dam="1" original_size="750x420" caption="The Obama White House's LGBTQ page has been replaced with this generic page." expand=1]The Obama White House's LGBTQ page has been replaced with this generic page.

Just as Trump was inaugurated into office, several White House pages on various issues temporarily disappeared as the new administration took over — not an uncommon hiccup during a presidential transition. Obama's page dedicated to LGBTQ matters, however, still hasn't been replaced.

On June 15, the Department of Commerce removed sexual orientation and gender identity from a list of protected groups in its equal employment opportunity statement, BuzzFeed News noticed. (After the report published —and the department faced swift backlash — the list was updated to include LGBTQ protections once again.)

Federal websites lay out what the president and his administration's priorities are. Erasing them from government websites is a clear sign that the challenges faced by LGBTQ people aren't of immediate concern for Trump and his administration.

11. Trump's proposed travel ban barred LGBTQ refugees from entering the U.S., putting them more at risk of violence.

A transgender refugee from Honduras who is temporarily staying in Mexico hopes to make it to the U.S. eventually. Photo by Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images.

Trump's executive order on immigration served as a blanket ban on refugees coming from a handful of Muslim-majority countries. Among those fleeing their homelands for safety and security, though, are LGBTQ people escaping persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Take Ramtin Zigorat. He's a 27-year-old LGBTQ activist and refugee stranded in Turkey after being sentenced to death in Iran for being gay. The UNHCR had granted him admission to the U.S., but that was put on hold after Trump's travel ban. He's one of many.

"Maybe they will kill me tomorrow," he told CNN back in March. "You always live with this fear."

12. Trump decided against including questions related to sexual orientation or gender identity on the 2020 census.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Questions on those matters have never been on the census. But a proposal to include them in the 2020 survey was rejected by the Census Bureau, leaving LGBTQ people invisible, yet again, in one of the most crucial collections of federal data we have.

If data doesn't exist on a marginalized population, it becomes impossibly more difficult to service their specific needs.

13. Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch — a right-leaning justice with a questionable track record on LGBTQ rights — to the Supreme Court.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.

Arguably one of the most lasting impacts Trump will have on civil rights is his picks for the Supreme Court — which is why his decision to nominate right-leaning Gorsuch has LGBTQ advocates on edge.

"For a conservative, he may stake out some admirably unorthodox positions on the bench," wrote Slate's Mark Joseph Stern after noting Gorsuch's bigoted stances on transgender equality and gay marriage. "But an embrace of LGBTQ rights will not be one of them."

So, to get back to the initial question: Do lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans finally have a Republican ally in the White House?  

The evidence speaks for itself.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Upworthy is sharing this letter from Myra Sack on the anniversary of the passing of her daughter Havi Lev Goldstein. Loss affects everyone differently and nothing can prepare us for the loss of a young child. But as this letter beautifully demonstrates, grief is not something to be ignored or denied. We hope the honest words and feelings shared below can help you or someone you know who is processing grief of their own. The original letter begins below:


Dear Beauty,

Time is crawling to January 20th, the one-year anniversary of the day you took your final breath on my chest in our bed. We had a dance party the night before. Your posse came over. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, closest friends, and your loving nanny Tia. We sat in the warm kitchen with music on and passed you from one set of arms to another. Everyone wanted one last dance with you. We didn’t mess around with only slow songs. You danced to Havana and Danza Kuduro, too. Somehow, you mustered the energy to sway and rock with each of us, despite not having had anything to eat or drink for six days. That night, January 19th, we laughed and cried and sang and danced. And we held each other. We let our snot and our tears rest on each other’s shoulders; we didn’t wipe any of them away. We ate ice cream after dinner, as we do every night. And on this night, we rubbed a little bit of fresh mint chocolate chip against your lips. Maybe you’d taste the sweetness.

Reggaeton and country music. Blueberry pancakes and ice cream. Deep, long sobs and outbursts of real, raw laughter. Conversations about what our relationships mean to each other and why we are on this earth.


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

An assignment on the Trail of Tears has prompted debate about taking historical perspectives.

Helping young people understand the causes and effects of historical events is a formidable task for any educator. History isn't just "what happened and when." There's also a "why," "how" and "who" in every historical happening, and quality history education helps students explore those questions.

Sometimes, however, that exploration can go off the rails.

Most people would agree that understanding different perspectives is an important part of learning history, but there are more and less problematic ways of helping students gain that understanding. We've seen some of the more problematic methods pop up in school assignments before, from asking students to pick cotton like slaves to listing the pros and cons of slavery.

Now an assignment from a school in Georgia is making the rounds, with people calling out issues with the perspective it asked students to take.

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The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

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