What the mom behind the viral rainbow Christmas lights wants people to know.

Here's hoping we see many more supportive holiday displays.

Lexi Magnussen left the Mormon Church in 2012 because she disagreed with its views on homosexuality.

Then, a few months ago, her new neighbors moved in.

Shortly after, the mom of the neighboring family came over to introduce herself to Lexi and her husband, who were standing on their front lawn.


Lexi and her family. Photo via Lexi Magnussen, used with permission.

The woman, like Lexi and her husband, happened to be Mormon, which Lexi says is why she thinks the woman reached out, hoping they'd have something in common.

Their conversation started out pleasant enough, but then took a rather uncomfortable — and homophobic — turn.

"Basically she told us she moved here to get her children away from the gays," Lexi recalls in a private Facebook message. According to Lexi, the last straw for her neighbor was when a girl rejected her son asking her to the prom because the girl already had a girlfriend. She just couldn't understand a school that promoted "the gay agenda," her neighbor told her.

Lexi says she tried to keep her cool and reminded her neighbor that their kids were going to be exposed to LGBTQ people no matter where they went, and she was glad for it.

Photo by Lexi Magnussen. Used with permission.

"[Kids] know not to be horrible to each other based on who they are or how they were born," Lexi explains.

Needless to say, the conversation ended quickly, and from that day on, Lexi says her new neighbor acted like her family didn't exist.

The painful situation hung in Lexi's mind for months, until the presidential election results came in. With Christmas coming up, Lexi decided to act.

Like many people nationwide, she was devastated by the election, not only because she didn't like the outcome but because of the onslaught of hate crimes targeting marginalized groups that followed. With her conversation with her neighbor in mind, Lexi knew she wanted to do something to publicly show her support for the LGBTQ community.

So she grabbed 10,000 rainbow lights and got to work on her front yard:

Photo by Lexi Magnussen. Used with permission.

"I love Christmas lights [and] realized my front hedges would be the perfect place for a rainbow flag of lights," Lexi explains of the decorations.

Lexi's neighbor has yet to comment on her vivid display, she says, but the rest of her neighbors love it, as do the 14,000 other people who've liked her post on Facebook. Despite the initial disappointing exchange with her neighbor, however, Lexi says she's open to furthering the conversation between them.

It doesn't take a monumental action to make a big difference, especially to the people you see every day — your neighbors.

The Magnussens' bright response to hate is just one of many people have carried out in recent months. One artist in Arkansas covered up hateful graffiti with a loving message and has made it her mission to keep doing it. A group of Michigan neighbors decked out all their houses with rainbow flags in response to a bigoted letter one neighbor received.

The messages these displays send aren't so much a rebuke to people — like Lexi's neighbor — who don't believe in them as much as they are an affirmation to those who are targeted by hate speech and hate crimes. I see you, I love you, I am here for you, these artistic displays of solidarity say to those who need to hear them.

Making a difference and rejecting bigotry can start with a kind word and the willingness to listen to the problems people in your community are facing. If we can protect each other on a local level, that's a huge step in the right direction.

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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.

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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