Inclusivity
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In 2020, coming out as transgender isn't necessarily a bombshell. Slowly but surely, people are catching on to the fact that biological sex and gender are two different things, that those two things don't match up in some individuals, and that people are people no matter what gender they are.

Of course, there are also those who don't understand any of the above and feel the need to let other people's identities affect them, for whatever reason. Regardless, simply announcing that one is transgender, while sometimes a surprise, isn't headline newsworthy at this point.

What is newsworthy is someone being blackmailed into coming out, which is what happened this week to YouTube star and beauty vlogger, Nikkie de Jager.

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If you think racism in America is dead, or perhaps not as prevalent as some people claim, you may want to rethink that stance.

A new study from Rutgers University has found that black teenagers in the United States experience racial discrimination more than five times a day on average. Five times. Every day.

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We live in an ever-shrinking world. Today, people can travel to practically any place on the planet—distances that used to take weeks or even months to traverse—in less than a day. People on opposite sides of the globe can talk face-to-face through handheld devices—a reality that was a futuristic dream even in my own lifetime. Thanks to constant advances in transportation and communication, we're living in an increasingly global society—one that our children will need to understand as they inherit it.

After 9/11, author and mother Homa Sabet Tavangar felt compelled to explore the impact of our rapidly changing world on her children. Tavangar had worked for 15 years helping companies become competitive in the global market, but she knew humanity needed more than than global business savvy. It needed compassionate, culturally competent people who strive to understand others and see themselves as citizens of the world.

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Culture

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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