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Pop Culture

What's not as bad as social media would have you believe? People have answers.

We all know someone who needs to see this.

social media, reddit, good news

A woman is outraged by social media.

Social media trends can often put overwhelming attention on a specific subject, turning it into a cultural obsession. There are a lot of examples when it comes to relationships and mental health. Social media is filled with armchair therapists who feel the need to diagnose everything as a psychological or physical disorder.

The problem is that there is often a giant chasm between the way that people who are trained in the world of mental health and psychology use these terms and the way they are bandied about online.

Take the term “gaslighting,” for example.

“Indeed, ‘gaslighting’ can be added to the list of words that have spilled over from clinical psychology into popular nomenclature,” Alia Hoyt writes at HowStuffWorks. “While increased understanding of mental health issues is generally a good thing, it falls decidedly flat when terms like gaslighting, ADHD, OCD, and such are grossly misused. All three have become popular slang terms for feelings and experiences that are nowhere near what the terms mean.”


When every bad partner is elevated to being a narcissist or a gaslighter, personal quirks are symptoms of autism, and bad days become episodes of depression, the world starts to become a lot more frightening.

That’s why a recent post on Reddit by NotABigFanOfDucks was so refreshing. They asked people on the forum, "What isn’t nearly as bad as Reddit would have you believe?" and received nearly 10,000 responses where people tamped down the sensationalist nature of social media.

Here are 11 things that aren’t “nearly as bad” as social media would have us believe.

1. Working through relationship problems

"Yeah, the relationship shouldn’t be a constant struggle that outweighs the good but not always sprinkles and sunshine. We are all human, including you and the people you date." — LocuraLins

2. Dads are welcomed in parks

"As a father, taking my daughters to the park. Nobody ever thought I was a predator or looked at me suspiciously. If anything, most people gave me positive vibes because they liked seeing a father actively involved. Nor was it strange to see other men." — BobbyTwoSticksBTS2

"100%. As a man, I get way more credit for doing anything with my child than her mother does from random strangers. The bar is so low for us lol." — TeddyOne

3. Not all bad partners are abusive

"I mentioned an ex being emotionally immature and someone said he's a covert narcissist. Not every relationship conflict is a sign that someone is abusing you." — Xain_the_idiot

"When did we start using ‘narcissist’ to describe someone exhibiting literally ANY undesirable behavior? It gets on my nerves so bad. Not everyone is a narcissist, FFS. Some people are just your everyday, run-of-the-mill di**head." — NapsAndShinyThings

"This is my big beef. Not everything needs a label to validate it. People can be an a**hole without being a narcissist. Some people are just incorrect sometimes. They're not trying to gaslight you." — I_Poop_Sometimes

4. Mental health

"Oh my god, I am so utterly exhausted by the new crop of armchair psychologists we now have to deal with, thanks to TikTok. Everyone has ADHD, on top of severe anxiety and depression, which are, in turn, caused by terrible past traumas. But you're a badass warrior for simply waking up each morning!" — KryssCom

"My cousin-in-law has OCD and was arrested because she, at the age of 12, took on three officers trying to force her to go to school, but she had to go home because her number of steps wasn't a multiple of 5, so if she didn't walk back home and do it she honestly believed her perfectly healthy mom would die. She believed this enough to fight three police officers. At the age of 12. I was recently talking to someone who said they had OCD, and I asked them ‘what their compulsion is’ and they said, ‘I like to keep my room tidy,’ and I said, ‘Is it tidy right now?’ and they said no, and then got upset when I told them that's not OCD. When I showed them the DSM-V, they told me, ‘It's a spectrum.’ Not everything is on a spectrum. You're neurotypical, and that's OKAY." — Throwaway_Consoles

5. 9 to 5 jobs are evil

"The ‘9 to 5 cubicle job.’ As someone who thought he'd do manual labor and retail bulls**t their entire life, I love my office job." — DabbinOnDemGoy

"This is a big one. Office jobs can feel depressing at times and some are worse than others, but I've been a line cook and a landscaper for years at a time and I'll take my current office job. Nothing against line cooks or landscapers, but those are REALLY tough jobs to maintain for decades. Very tolling on the body, brain and soul." — AfetusnamedJames

6. Wrong ideas about introversion and extraversion

"Introverted and extroverted don't really mean what most people think they mean. It means people who recharge their energy by either being around others or not. If you're an introvert, you 'recharge' alone, if you're an extravert, you recharge by being around others. This is why you can see socially adept introverts and socially awkward extroverts. It has nothing to really do with confidence in social settings, but whether or not they energize you." — LilyHex

7. American life

"Life in America. We absolutely have our problems, but so do all countries. Reddit loves to compare the most awfully designed suburb of a terrible city with, like, downtown Stockholm lol." — Narcadia

"Thank you for reminding this American who gets sucked into pessimism too often. There are some accelerating trends likely to make us such before anyone in the mainstream sees it coming, but all the hysteria around the little things seems to be pushing people further toward disastrous reactions to overblown problems. We could all use a little more 'it ain't that bad.'" — PM_ME_UP_PEWP

8. Upward mobility

"The ability for a person to work hard and improve their quality of life over time." — TooMuchMapleSyrup

"The 'I will never succeed because society has set me up to fail and therefore I will no longer try' attitude is so prevalent and so unhealthy." — One-Zero-Five

"This might be a selfish and nihilistic way to think but when I see people with that mentality, I think how much easier it will be for me to succeed because I'm willing to work hard and improve over time. It's like when people are willing to place themselves near the bottom of the 'pecking order' (standard deviation, bell curve, however, you see it), it's easier for me to rise to the top." — Duhblow7

9. Being a parent is fun

"Being a parent! Raising a whole human from scratch is freaking exhausting, yeah, but kids are also hilarious, sweet, fun, loving, weird, quirky, and awesome—all of which massively and unequivocally outweighs hardship." — Amoryjm

"I really regret listening to people who talked about how hard it would be. Stressed about it so much leading up to it. Not enough people talk about how much f**king FUN being a parent can be." — Knvn8

10. May-December romance

"Age gaps in relationships. Not saying they’re all okay but a lot of Reddit seems to believe they are all inherently abusive." — Hollowdisaster

"Exactly. What’s the point in having an age of consent and then getting upset when two people above that age are both … consenting? People on here love to get upset over things that have nothing to do with them. It’s weird." — Anonymous_Seaotter

11. Rejection

"Suffer the pain of rejection or the pain of regret. I've never regretted approaching a woman, but I still remember regretting not approaching them." — 65AndSunny

"Also, being sensitive to rejection does not mean you have ADHD." — Trcomajo

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3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Ms. Natalie Ringold's lesson in kindness has gone viral.

No matter our age, we all want kindness and respect from our peers. No one enjoys being judged or criticized, and negative comments about our appearance sting even if we don't want them to.

Unfortunately, that doesn't always stop people from pointing out things they think we should change about ourselves. Issues like hair shaming and body shaming are all too common, despite greater awareness of the hurt they cause.

Elementary school teacher Natalie Ringold shared a lesson about this phenomenon, and though it's geared toward kids, it's one a lot of grown-ups could take to heart as well.


Holding a tube of toothpaste, Ms. Ringold explained when it's appropriate to say something about someone's appearance and when it's not.

"If somebody can't change something about themselves in 30 seconds or less," she said, "then you shouldn't be mentioning it to them."

She gave examples of things that do take 30 seconds or less, such as if someone's shoe is untied or they have something stuck to their shirt or their fly is unzipped. For those things, it's okay to tell the person (politely, and in private if it's something that might embarrass them to point out in front of other people) so they can fix it.

But if it's something that would take more than 30 seconds to change or isn't even possible to change, like their hairsytle or hair color or body shape, then that's not something you should comment on.

"Your words have power," Ms. Ringold said. Squeezing toothpaste out of the tube, she explained that when you say something about someone that they can't change in 30 seconds or less, it can be hurtful, and just like toothpaste once it's out of the tube, you can't fully take it back once it's out there.

"You try to apologize, you try to take the words back…and you try to undo what you said, undo what you did. But it's something they couldn't change about themselves, and so it get very messy. You can't totally take those words back. You can't totally fix it."

"Your words have power and your words matter," she said. "If you walk out of this room spreading kindness to the people around you, spreading love to the people around you, that is what truly makes a difference."

Ms. Ringold shared that she does this lesson with her students on the last day of school because she wants them to remember this concept for the rest of their lives. People in the comments were so appreciative of the message for all ages.

"I think many adults need to hear this message!"

"Exactly my thoughts. A lot of adults need to hear this too."

"BLESS YOU!!! As a person who was relentlessly racially harassed as a child, I wish this was taught."

"If they are old enough to be mean on purpose they are old enough to be kind on purpose."

"This should be required viewing for anyone who wants to join social media."

"This made me cry. Can I start my college courses with this?"

"I saw you post this and had this conversation with my 4th graders!! It helped so much!!"

Here's to teachers teaching lessons beyond academics, helping kids learn that their humanity matters just as much as their grades.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Democracy

Attorney argues why Louisiana law requiring the 10 Commandments in classrooms is un-American

He says that it's unconstitutional is only the beginning of the problem.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits the establishment of religion.

On June 19, 2024, Louisiana governor Jeff Landry signed a new law requiring that the Ten Commandments be displayed, in “large, easily readable font,” in every public school classroom from kindergarten to state-funded universities. The move prompted an outcry from Americans citing the first amendment clause that the government "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Defenders of the law contend that the Ten Commandments are not solely religious in nature, and the language of the law refers to them as "foundational documents of our state and national government.” But the ACLU and other civil rights organizations immediately announced that they would fight the law in the courts. A similar law in Kentucky was struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980.

Author and attorney Andrew Seidel took to X to argue why the law is not only unconstitutional, but un-American.


Seidel begins by sharing that the first commandment in the specified text that the law requires be posted in classrooms states, "I AM the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

"The point of this bill is to give the false impression that America is a Christian nation," Seidel wrote in his thread. "That's Christian Nationalism."

Seidel says that the first commandment directly conflicts with the founding principles of the United States.

"No law—and this would be a law—can tell an American to worship a god, let alone which god. Americans are free to be godless (as a growing number are), or, if they wish, to worship every god from every holy book."

He pointed to the law's sponsor, Rep. Dodie Horton, stating in her explanation of why she proposed the bill: “I'm not concerned with an atheist. I'm not concerned with a Muslim. I’m concerned with our children looking and seeing what God’s law is."

In addition to the establishment of religion as a constitutional problem, Seidel shared that the Louisiana law uses an edited version of the Ten Commandments in the text that the state specifies.

Seidel explained that there are various translations and interpretations of the Ten Commandments, and that such differences have been the basis of different schisms within Christianity itself, not to mention "as James Madison put it, the 'torrents of blood' that have been spilled, trying to impose a state-sanctioned version of religious truth."

"That's what Louisiana is doing here," Seidel wrote. "Imposing it's version of religious truth on kids in public schools. It's gross."

Seidel then explained the issue with Louisiana's editing of the King James Version of the Ten Commandments, paring it down and removing certain phrases.

"If the state can rewrite one religion’s holy book, it can rewrite yours. Louisiana does not have this power. Nor does it have the power to impose that religious edict on a captive audience of your children."

"This is the worst kind of big government conservatives claim to oppose," Seidel added. "More to the point, this is one reason we have the separation of church and state, and it’s precisely how that separation protects everyone and helps ensure the foundational value of religious freedom. It not only prevents the state from weighing in on religious disagreements, scriptural discrepancies, and theological debates, but also refuses to empower the state to force its preferred scripture or religious doctrine onto we the people."

Imagine if a state legislature with Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist-majority decided that an excerpt from one of those faith's holy books prohibiting the worship of any other deities was required to be posted in every public school classroom. The same people who are pushing for and praising this law probably wouldn't stand for it.

Opponents of the Louisiana law argue the idea that the U.S. was founded on the principles found in the Ten Commandments is negated as soon as you put the first commandment up against the first amendment. The U.S. was largely founded on the principle of religious freedom. The first amendment prohibits the government from telling the people what to believe or whom or how to worship. The first commandment specifically states whom the people must worship, and the second, third and fourth commandment specify how they should worship and there therefore incompatible as government-sanctioned messages.

Virtually no one is arguing that all of the Ten Commandments are bad. Not killing, lying or stealing are standard moral codes for the vast majority of humanity, regardless of religious background. But the others are very much asserting Judeo-Christian religious beliefs, and Seidel says for the government to require that assertion in classrooms is blatantly unconstitutional and un-American as well.

You can find Andrew Seidel's books, "The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American" and "American Crusade: How the Supreme Court Is Weaponizing Religious Freedom" on Amazon.

As a participant in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, Upworthy may earn proceeds from items purchased that are linked to this article, at no additional cost to you.

Family

I told a kid a riddle my dad told me when I was 7. His answer proves how far we've come.

This classic riddle takes on new meaning as our world changes for the better.




When I was 7, my dad told me a riddle.

"A man and his son are driving in their car when they are hit by a tractor-trailer.

Photo via iStock.

(We were driving at the time, so of course this was the riddle he decided to tell.)

The father dies instantly.

The son is badly injured. Paramedics rush him to the hospital.

Photo via iStock.

As he is being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon takes one look the boy and says:

'I can't operate on him. He's my son.'

How is that possible?!"

Without missing a beat, I answered:


"The doctor is his mom!"

Photo via iStock.

My dad first heard the riddle when he was a child in the '60s.

Back then, most women didn't work outside of the home.

Few of those who did had college degrees, much less professional degrees.

Female doctors were few and far between.

Back then, it was a hard riddle. A very hard riddle.

By 1993, when I first heard it, the notion that women could be highly skilled, highly trained professionals wasn't so absurd.

To me, it was normal.

I knew women who were lawyers. Bankers. Politicians. My own doctor was a woman.

To be sure, women still faced challenges and discrimination in the workplace. And even 20 years later, they still do.

But at its core, the riddle is about how a family can work. And that had changed. Long-overdue progress had rendered the big, sexist assumption that underpinned the whole thing moot.

A very hard riddle was suddenly not a riddle at all.

I never forgot it.

Now, I'm 30 — almost as old as my dad was he first told me that riddle.

My dad at 30 (left) and me at 30. Photos by Eric March/Upworthy and Mary March, used with permission.

I don't have kids, but I mentor a child through a volunteer program.

Once a week, we get together and hang out for an hour. We play ping pong, do science experiments, and write songs. Neither of us like to go outside.

It's a good match.

One day, we decided to try to stump each other with riddles.

He rattled off about five or six.

I could only remember one: The one about the man, his son, and the surgeon.

Photo via iStock.

I thought it would be silly to tell it.

I was sure that, if it was easy in 1993, it would be even easier in 2014. Kind of ridiculous, even.

But a part of me was curious.

It had been 21 years — almost as long as it had been between when my dad first heard the riddle and when he shared it with me.

Maybe it wouldn't be so easy.

Maybe I was missing something obvious, making my own flawed assumptions about how a family could work.

Maybe the world had changed in ways that would be second nature to a 13-year-old but not to me.

So I began:

"A man and his son are driving in their car, when they are hit by a tractor-trailer. The father dies instantly. The son is badly injured and is rushed to the hospital by paramedics. As he is being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon takes one look at the boy and says:

'I can't operate on him. He's my son.'

How is that possible?!"

Without missing a beat, he answered: "it's his other dad"

Photo via iStock.

Times change. Progress isn't perfect. But no matter what shape a family takes, at the end of the day, #LoveWins.


This article was written by Eric March and originally appeared on 06.21.16

Sunscreen is one of our most crucial lines of defense against harmful UV rays.

Summer is officially upon us. Which means that, even though sunscreen is recommended every season of the year, nearly everyone is being more mindful about slathering some on before heading outdoors—be it for vanity’s sake, or for cancer prevention. Honestly whatever motive ingrains the habit.


But according to dermatologist Dr. Michael Park, there’s one key spot that most people tend to leave out of their sunscreen regimen, which could leave them susceptible.

“I don’t know if you guessed it, but it’s the ears,” Dr. Park says in a video posted to TikTok.

Park, who worked in a melanoma specialty clinic for over a year, recalls seeing multiple patients with melanoma, a common type of skin cancer, right behind the ear where the sun “beat down on their skin.”

Park also notes the seriousness of melanoma.

@michael.park.md #skincare ♬ original sound - Michael Park, MD

“I don’t know where people got the idea of ‘oh it’s just skin cancer, it's not that big of a deal.’ Y’all, let me make something really clear: melanoma, if not caught early, will kill you. Aggressive squamous cell carcinoma on the head and neck will also kill you,” he says.

Even basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of cancer which in most cases is not fatal, will have to be cut out…along with the skin surrounding it.

Park quips that while no one would probably want large chunks cut out of them, “certain areas that would be way worse than others, and one of those places… is the ears.” Which is why he’s sending out a friendly PSA about the importance of sunscreen in every nook and cranny that might get some sun.

“Unless you want to be a Vincent Van Gogh looking a**, make sure you put sunscreen on your ears,” his video concludes.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. So it’s important not to forget to defend any and all vulnerable areas with every UV blocking products available—from sunscreen every couple of hours to protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, etc.

For more skin care tips from Dr. Park, find him on TikTok.

Photo pulled from video

Texas dad giving heartfelt speech.

A baseball cap on his head, his hands tucked snugly in his front blue jean pockets, Ken Ballard stood in front of a room of onlookers, admittedly a little out of his element.

But the issue at hand was so critical, Ballard said, he couldn't keep quiet.


Ballard was speaking during Texas' 85th Legislative Session this past winter about his 14-year-old transgender son, Ashur, who attempted suicide twice.

Ashur, like many trans people, had wrestled with his identity in a world where ignorance and irrational fear-mongering continue harming people like him.

"Was I going to be his bully?" an emotional Ballard said in response to his son's coming out. "Was I going to try and put him back into a box that fit the rules of my world at the time or wait it out and see if it would just pass and go back to the way it’d use to be?"

Advocacy group Equality Texas, who's worked with Ballard in fighting for LGBTQ rights in the state, recently shared a video of him speaking during the session. Although it was captured on video several months ago, Ballard's emotional plea in front of his fellow Texans is just now making waves online.

Since Equality Texas shared the video on Facebook, the comment section has filled with loving messages of support and admiration.

The comments, although mostly positive, are a bit bittersweet to Ballard.

"I ... see comments that too many parents missed out on what could have been an amazing journey for them and their child by not accepting them," Ballard explains. "Be as excited about your kid's life as you were at the sonogram, when 'we are having a baby' was enough."

The ongoing debate over trans rights isn't isolated in Ballard's home state. Legislatures at both the state and local level across the country are pushing forward with harmful bills this very moment.

A recently proposed Texas "bathroom bill" — which would have forced trans Texans to use the restroom that corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth (not the gender they identify) — was just rejected by House Speaker Joe Straus, which was great news for human rights groups like Equality Texas.

But there's still much at stake in the Lone Star State and in jurisdictions from coast to coast.

A handful of states, including Montana, Virginia, and Minnesota — as well as local school boards spanning the U.S. — deliberating similar bathroom bills. Research shows these laws leave trans people even more vulnerable to dangerous circumstances in their own communities — yet, their passing doesn't protect anyone.

Chances are, equality — and trans lives — might be at stake in your own region of the country.

As for Ballard and Ashur, they're living proof that acceptance and inclusion save lives.

And, as Ballard's moving speech illustrates so well, it's important our laws reflect that critical reality.

"I've watched a kid go from someone who, 26 months ago, was in despair," Ballard says of his son's mental health. "Now, [he's] flourishing."


This article originally appeared on 07.06.17