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Transgender students in northern Virginia got some good news when the Fairfax County School Board voted to revise the nondiscrimination policy to include gender identity.

The school board adopted the revised policy on the evening of Thursday, May 7, 2015. Until then, the district's policy banned discrimination on the basis of age, race, national origin, disability, religion, and sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

Tamara Derenak Kaufax of the Fairfax County School Board gave a brief rundown of why they decided to include gender identity in the existing policy.


"The decision by the school board to add 'gender identity to our nondiscrimination policy is to provide an environment which promotes equality where every student and employee is treated with dignity and respect. This tells our students and staff that school and the FCPS workplace are places where they can be safe from harassment and discrimination." — School Board Chair, Tamara Derenak Kaufax

So often, the conversation surrounding whether to protect trans students revolves around talk of bathrooms or locker rooms. The reality is, what bathroom a trans student uses is just one of several major challenges they face in school.

Trans kids are harassed, physically and sexually assaulted, and even expelled as a result of their gender.

According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, more than 3 out of 4 trans students report being harassed because of their gender.

Worse yet, the harassment isn't solely the product of students. Nearly 1 in 3 trans students reports being harassed by a teacher or school staff member.

National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 2011

The numbers can be startling, but sometimes we need to hear from those most affected by these types of policies — the trans students themselves.

Here's an example of Ashton Lee detailing some of the challenges he faced as a trans student.

When California was considering a statewide policy that would add trans nondiscrimination policies to all schools, one of the most vocal students was then-16-year-old Ashton Lee.
(Full disclosure, in my past job as a freelance writer, I interviewed Ashton for Rolling Stone.)

He discussed how subtle forms of discrimination, both overt and accidental, made school an unnecessarily challenging experience.

Being forced to go by the name he was given at birth, separated from the other boys, and lumped in with the girls in his class, Ashton began to struggle.

He talks about how great it was to finally come to terms with himself for who he really is, but how much it hurts to have his existence erased by classmates, teachers, and parents.

Ashton's public testimony helped put a face to the issue for California lawmakers.

When I spoke to Ashton for Rolling Stone, shortly after the bill passed, here's what he told me about what it meant to him to be able to be treated as himself in school and be treated like any other boy:

"As soon as the governor signed the bill, my school allowed me to use the proper restrooms. If the bill is overturned, it would be a huge blow to me, and I fear that I would have to return to pretending to be someone I'm not at school." — Ashton Lee

It can be hard to take in just how much of a challenge kids like Ashton face. Being a teenager is hard. Why make it any harder?


Hopefully, the actions of the Fairfax County School Board will have the same effect on trans students in northern Virginia as the law had in California.

Kids shouldn't have to worry about being bullied for who they are. And for the naysayers claiming that the school board's decision will lead to boys pretending to be girls in order to use the locker rooms or other nonsense, here's a fact: California's law has been in effect now for more than a year. There have been no issues. The only effect it's had has been an improved environment for trans kids.

Check out Ashton Lee's 2013 testimony in the video below.

All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

It's incredible what a double-sided magnet can do.

This article originally appeared on 04.25.22


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The hobby has caught the attention of law enforcement and government agencies because urban waterways are a popular place for criminals to drop weapons and stolen items after committing a crime. In 2019, a magnet fisherman in Michigan pulled up an antique World War I mortar grenade and the bomb squad had to be called out to investigate.

Fifteen-year-old George Tindale and his dad, Kevin, 52, of Grantham, Lincolnshire in the U.K., made an incredible find earlier this month when they used two magnets to pull up a safe that had been submerged in the River Witham.

George has a popular magnet fishing YouTube channel called “Magnetic G.”

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