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California just changed sex ed in 3 bold ways. Will your state follow?

It's the magical unicorn of sex ed policies, and it's time for other states to do it too.

"Don't have sex or you will get pregnant and die."

GIF from "Mean Girls."

It's not just a "Mean Girls" quote. Unfortunately, for many middle school and high school students in the United States, that's a pretty accurate summary of their sexual health education.


But there's hope on the horizon, in the form of an actually sensible sex ed law passed in California this month.

While most states don't even require sex education (and only 19 require that the education be medically accurate and factual), California schools are now required to promote sex ed curricula based on sound science and inclusivity rather than shame and stigma.

That's right: A state actually passed the magical unicorn of sex ed policies. Victory is ours!

1. The California Healthy Youth Act requires that sex ed programs include information on sexual orientation and LGBTQ sexual health.

LGBTQ sexual health is usually left out of sex ed curricula altogether in most states. And for cisgender students, remaining uninformed about the reality of their LGBTQ peers can only reaffirm harmful myths about non-hetero relationships. Fear thrives when people don't have the facts.

That's why this isn't just an important step forward for lawmakers. For some students, it could be life-changing — even life-saving.

"This bold and substantive legislation will transform the lives of thousands of LGBTQ teens who will finally have their identities validated, and their personal and sexual health needs addressed," said Ellen Kahn, the HRC's Youth and Families Program Director.

2. The law also requires teaching accurate info on STI and HIV prevention and treatment, birth control, and consent.

Comprehensive, inclusive sex ed makes a lot of sense from a public health perspective too. Research has shown that teens who get the right information tend to have lower STI and teen pregnancy rates.

3. Plus, the new law requires teaching about affirmative consent and how to have healthy relationships.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler get it. GIF from 2013 "Golden Globe Awards."

"I firmly believe that by instilling in young minds the importance of affirmative consent and relationships built on love and respect, that we can reduce the sexual violence inflicted on young woman," said Sen. Kevin De León, one of the bill's authors.

Affirmative consent is the idea that healthy, consensual sexual relationships require an enthusiastic "Yes!" from all parties involved, free of coercion. It's a model of consent that empowers people to make informed sexual decisions for themselves and encourages partners to communicate with one another too.

Honestly, there's still a long road ahead for making sure that all people — and especially LGBTQ folks — have access to the education, social services and health care they need to make informed decisions about their bodies and lives.

But with trailblazers like California leading the way, there's so much reason to believe in a better future.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

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