He was born a girl. He knew he was a boy. And what his parents did ... well, just take a look.

These parents are doing it right by accepting their child for who he is.

Parenting is about being the best mom or dad we can be to our kids. Sometimes it's simple. Other times, it might not be what we anticipated or imagined. But that doesn't really matter — because there's no straightforward manual for raising kids. And when we take on this gig, we're responsible for loving our children unconditionally.

Jeff and Hillary Whittington wanted to be parents.



They got pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful little girl. (Cuuuuute baby, right?!) They named her Ryland.

On Ryland's first birthday, they learned she was deaf.

Like any parents would be, Jeff and Hillary were sad when they learned the news because of the additional challenges Ryland would face. Ryland received cochlear implants and learned to speak and hear. Things were going well.

But Ryland needed them to know something else.


Ryland wanted everyone to know that she was a boy. Some people told Ryland's parents that it was "just a phase." But the thing about phases is that they end. Ryland's feelings and expression of them only got stronger.

Ryland's feelings were not a "phase."

Ryland was expressing who he was — a boy.

And the inability to be himself was too much to bear.

Shame is destructive and painful. And nobody — a child or an adult — should feel shame for who they are. Psychotherapist Ami B. Kaplan says: "Simply being different is enough for any child to develop some shame, but being different and getting messages from family, teachers, other kids and society that your difference is undesirable, less-than or something to be made fun of can create shame."

Ryland continued to share the truth.

It wasn't a phase. It was Ryland's reality.

So Ryland's parents did what any good parent should do. They listened and learned.

Jeff and Hillary reached out for help from professionals, learned everything they could, and came to the only conclusion that existed: Their child was transgender. Ryland was born with female anatomy, but Ryland's brain identifies as male.

No matter Ryland's gender, Ryland's parents wanted him *alive*.

Studies show that 41% of transgender adults have attempted suicide. Take a minute to think about that number. It's nine times higher than the average attempted suicide rate. Here's what we need to know: "Suicide attempts were less common among transgender and gender-nonconforming people who said their family ties had remained strong after they came out."

Makes complete sense, right? If you can live as your authentic self without discrimination or abuse because of who you are, you're going to be a lot happier.

Ryland's parents took that to heart. They began Ryland's transition.

They cut his hair, and he began dressing and living as a boy. They began using the correct gender pronouns: him and he.

And Ryland was happy.

You know what? The people who mattered did the right thing.

Even if they'd lost all of their friends and family, I know the Whittingtons would have honored Ryland and supported him in his transition. But fortunately, they were surrounded by a lot of good people, and most accepted Ryland for who he was.

'Cause here's the thing...

There are many tragedies that can happen to our children. This is not one.

Ryland is happy now that he gets to live as himself.

As his parents said, "He's still healthy, handsome, and extremely happy!"

No-strings attached parenting.

And there you have it. Parenting done right. When we become parents, we don't get to have our kids live out our ideal vision of who they'll be. We have to love and support them for who they are.

Don't stop yet!

Ryland's parents made an amazing video from which I created this story. Please watch it. I promise it's incredible and moving and it shares a very important lesson.

If you have a child who doesn't conform to society's gender norms, this is for you. If you are raising children who do conform to society's gender norms, this is for you, too, because it's up to you to raise accepting, loving children who will treat others with respect and kindness. And really, it's for everyone because the world can use more love, compassion, and empathy.

Want to help educate others and also spread some feel-good love? You can share this!

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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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via Cadbury

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.

WE Teachers
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via KGW-TV / YouTube

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