Famous musicians are trying to stop an anti-trans Texas bill before it becomes law.

"Bills like these are poison."

So reads a letter addressed to "Texas Leaders" signed by over 100 prominent artists in opposition to Texas Senate Bill 6 and House Bill 1362. Both are so-called "bathroom bills" that would require transgender students in public schools and people who work in certain state buildings to use the restroom that corresponds to their biological sex rather than their gender identity.

The letter is signed by a roster of celebrities including Ariana Grande, Sting, Sara Bareilles, Amy Poehler, Emma Stone, and Laverne Cox — who recently shouted out Gavin Grimm, a transgender Virginia student whose school board barred him from using the boys bathroom  — at the Grammys.


Image by The Ally Project.

"Transgender and gender non-conforming people are already subjected to bullying and harassment," the letter reads. "Can you imagine the message these bills send to children — the message of 'that child is unwelcome, that child is dangerous?'"

After North Carolina's HB2 was passed, artists responded with denunciations and boycotts. This time, the performers are taking a stand against the bill to prevent it from becoming law in the first place.

The letter was spearheaded by Jack Antonoff, lead singer and songwriter of Bleachers and co-founder of The Ally Coalition, which is sponsoring the campaign against the bills in conjunction with Equality Texas and GLAAD.

"What we want to do is stop it, but if we can’t stop it, we want to try and cast a light on it," Antonoff says. "We don’t want it to go through quietly. We want people to know what’s going on."

Jack Antonoff. Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images.

Antonoff was motivated to take action on the legislation, in part, through his work with New Alternatives, a New York City-based support organization for homeless LGBTQ youth. Bills like SB6, he says, make things worse for everyone by ostracizing LGBTQ children from their peers and communities.

The Ally Coalition plans to target six different categories of bills.

In addition to these "bathroom bills," the organization will work to oppose state-level bills meant to repeal same-sex marriage, bills that allow groups on college campuses to discriminate against LGBTQ students, religious liberty bills, bills that strip housing and workplace protections from LGBTQ people, and bills that require school officials to out LGBTQ students to their parents.

In the meantime, the group is urging its followers to sign on to the campaign and for those who live in Texas to call their representatives and speak out. Their site includes a form with a sample letter for supporters who want to register their opposition to the law.

Antonoff wants his fellow performers to be bold and address the issue at their shows.

Ariana Grande, a signatory to the letter, performs in Las Vegas. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

"The biggest way you can fight back as someone with an audience is to speak to your audience," he says.

Getting thousands of screaming concertgoers to scream against discriminatory legislation, he hopes, might just wake up a state legislator or two.

And now is the time — before anyone gets hurt.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture