This gay skier's Olympic journey is a lesson for anyone struggling with their identity.

Four years ago, Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy hit the slopes in Sochi, Russia, with purpose, eventually landing on the podium with a silver medal. But he wasn’t completely satisfied.

After coming out in 2015, Kenworthy, 26, revealed to ESPN magazine the main reason he was disappointed with his performance: “I never got to be proud of what I did in Sochi because I felt so horrible about what I didn’t do. I didn’t want to come out as the silver medalist from Sochi. I wanted to come out as the best freeskier in the world.”

All Olympians dream of winning gold medals, but to Kenworthy, it was about more than marking personal athletic accomplishment. He’s eager to represent the LGBTQ community in America on the top of the podium as an openly gay man.


This year in Pyeongchang, Kenworthy may finally get to do just that. Today, he’s embracing his role as a representative of the LGBTQ community, competing in front of the entire world. And he’s primed for a gold medal.

Kenworthy in a ski jump. Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

In January, Kenworthy spoke with Reuters, saying he feels more confident than ever, in part because he’s able to be his authentic self.

“I am more open with everyone in my life and I think it just translates into me being able to ski a little bit more freely and not have so much to focus on and worry about.”

However, considering he’s one of only two openly gay male athletes to compete for Team USA in the Winter Olympics, he’s also probably feeling the weight of responsibility.

Kenworthy joins 28-year-old openly gay figure skater Adam Rippon this year and both athletes have welcomed this historic opportunity to use their platforms in positive and effective ways, speaking out about the importance of inclusion and diversity at the Olympics — and also in everyday life.

“I’m representing myself and my country on the world stage,” Rippon told USA Today. “I have a lot of respect for this opportunity. What makes America great is that we’re all so different. It’s 2018, and being an openly gay man and an athlete, that is part of the face of America now.”

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“I’ve got more eyeballs on me,” Kenworthy told the Associated Press a couple of days before the start of the Winter Olympics. “My platform’s a lot bigger. I signed a bunch of Olympic sponsors, and I have the LGBTQ audience watching me, and I want to do right by them.”

In line with that, he started a new national campaign with Head & Shoulders called “Love Over Bias,” and he appears in a television commercial while proudly wearing a rainbow flag over his shoulders.

“I got to hold a pride flag in a national campaign for the first time in history and that’s just an amazing feeling,” he said on "Good Morning America" while promoting the campaign.

“It’s so much better on the other side, and living your life honestly and authentically is such an important thing that nothing should get in the way of that.”

Gus Kenworthy. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images.

Being known as a “gay athlete” and even as “the gay skier” doesn’t bother Kenworthy one bit. They are labels he’s not afraid of wearing, and he has no problem sharing his view on the subject.

“I’m definitely ‘The Gay Skier’ now, and that’s OK,” Kenworthy told the Associated Press. “I knew I was stepping into that role when I did it. In some ways, I don’t care that that’s the label that sticks. I took the step to come out publicly and I wear the badge proudly.”

For decades, LGBTQ athletes have struggled for acceptance in and out of locker rooms. Being out could mean losing sponsors, fans, friends, teammates, family, and in some cases, even a roster spot.

Like so many athletes before him, Kenworthy dealt with many of the same struggles. He performed at the highest level of competition while carrying the burden, stress, and heaviness of being in the closet. But he decided that being true to himself as both an athlete and a gay man far outweighed the risks.

As the world watches the Olympics unfold, there will plenty of young LGBTQ viewers and athletes among them. Kenworthy knows this. And he’s ready to show them that it’s more than OK to be true to who you are — it’s the best way to achieve your dreams.

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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.

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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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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."

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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.

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