After 86 Skin Cancer Surgeries, This Woman Has A Warning We All Need To Hear

Lisa Pace has had dozens of skin cancers removed from her body, and tanning beds are likely to blame

Lisa Pace began using a tanning bed in high school because a friend of hers had one at home. Then, when she left for college, the occasional visit turned into a daily activity. She hated her pale skin and freckles, and she liked the way her darker skin looked.

Today, though, she is all about educating others, so they don’t make the same mistake that she did. At 44 years old, she’s had 86 skin cancer surgeries, all over her body, and she wishes that she hadn’t felt insecure about her pale skin then so she didn’t have to feel insecure about her criss-cross of scars now.

“If I could go back and talk to my 17-year-old self, I would tell (her) that skin cancer is avoidable,” Pace told Today. “(I’d say) don’t get in that tanning bed. Wear sunscreen. Wear protective clothing. People are going to love you for what you look like on the inside, not on the outside.”

Pace said that she was self-conscious of how she looked, especially as an athlete. And that the media didn’t help how she felt about how she looked at all. When she tanned, she felt better, and got better feedback from people around her.

“It was addictive,” she said. “People would say, ‘You look so good, you look tan,’ and it just encouraged me.”

When she got her first job outside of college as a basketball coach, she took advantage of her health insurance coverage and went to the doctor. They found two spots of skin cancer on her leg – but Pace didn’t even know to be concerned. The doctor had to pressure her to schedule a surgery, and even after that, she couldn’t stop herself from going to the tanning bed.

“I blew it off for weeks,” Pace said. “They kept calling me and eventually, they said: ‘You need to get in here now.'”

It was only after she developed deadly cancers on her cheek and nose that she understood what was happening to her: she was battling a disease that was trying to take her life, and it was leaving wounds. A few surgeries turned into a few more, and they didn’t stop. Pace was going to the doctor constantly, and having surgeries every few months to stop the spread of cancer.

More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than with all other cancers combined. The most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma, will affect almost 100,000 people this year, and 7,000 will die of the disease. At the same time, rates of diagnosis are soaring as a generation of people who were told tanning is attractive pay the price for decades spent sunning and tanning.

Skin cancer can appear at any age, but begins to spike starting at about age 15 in women.

While indoor tanning use has dropped significantly in recent years, it is still popular among tens of millions of Americans, primarily women. Yet even using indoor tanning beds even once before age 35 can increase your risk of melanoma by 59 percent, and using them regularly ups the risks even more. Tanning beds deliver 15 times the ultraviolet light that the sun does at midday – and UV light is considered a carcinogen.

The best way to avoid too much sunlight is with UV-protected hats, clothing, and sunglasses, as well as through the daily application of sunscreen during warmer months.

The best way to spot skin cancer is through the ABCDE method of looking at spots on your skin. Look for (A)symmetry, irregular or ragged (B)orders, unusual or different shades of (C)olor, a (D)iameter that is larger than a pencil eraser, and (E)volving shape, size, and color. In general, point out anything to a doctor that looks concerning, and remember that you can have someone help you look on your back or other hard-to-access spots. Skin cancer is most common on places that are exposed to the sun (or tanning beds).

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Shocking Video Of Police Arresting A 12-Year-Old Boy Goes Viral

A video shows a 12-year-old boy being manhandled, with his head bagged, by Sacramento Police

Weeks after the video was taken, and days after it went viral, Sacramento Police say they will review the arrest of a 12-year-old African-American boy who had a bag placed over his head during a 25-minute struggle with police.

According to the Sacramento Bee, the video was shared by Black Lives Matter Sacramento and led to outrage online, as viewers try to understand why police were arresting the kid in the first place as well as why he wasn’t simply released to his mother, who was standing nearby.

The incident allegedly took place on April 28, when two police officers spotted a security guard running after the child. They apprehended the boy, who tried to wiggle away and who allegedly spit in the officers’ faces. At the same time, onlookers from the carnival recorded with their phones and asked why the police were arresting such a young kid, who didn’t, to anyone’s knowledge, break any laws. The bystanders also asked for the officers’ names and badge numbers.

During the course of the video, the officers handcuff the boy, force him onto the pavement of a parking lot, and place a “spit bag” over his head, as bystanders get increasingly upset. While using a spit bag is standard procedure for adults resisting arrest, it’s controversial to use on a 12-year-old.

During the video, the private security guard says that the child is being handcuffed because he was asking customers to buy him food at a nearby Walgreens. According to the family’s lawyer, an adult chaperone asked the boy to get change from his car, and the security guard thought he was stealing from the vehicle. The child ran away when the officer asked for the car keys.

According to a police spokesperson, the boy was released to his mother after being cited for battery against a police officer and resisting officers – and no other crimes.

Tanya Faison, Sacramento Black Lives Matter founder, believes the police “should all be held accountable,” and that, “Our police should know how to handle a tiny, 12-year-old boy.”

The family of the boy have already enlisted civil rights attorneys, the Crump Law Firm, which is also handling another Black Lives Matter case in Sacramento – that of Stephon Clark, a man who was shot in his grandmother’s back yard in 2018. He was unarmed, and the police who shot him were not charged.

The Crump Law Firm has already released a video regarding the 12-year-old’s arrest.

“I am here to say one thing and one thing only: we are not going to tolerate our community, and particularly our young people, being treated the way this young man was treated,” he said.

“We want to make sure that the greater Sacramento community, the state of California and the world is aware of what happened to this young man, who was doing nothing more than trying to enjoy the benefits of a neighborhood carnival,” he continued.

“The kid’s a good kid. He’s a small, slight kid, he’s under 4-foot-8 and he weighs less than 80 pounds,” he said. “He’s a little bitty kid. None of this should have come down the way it did.”

As the case is under investigation, settlement talks are also underway between the police and the family’s attorney.

This and the Stephon Clark case are not the only Black Lives Matters incidents that Sacramento is dealing with currently. The city and the California State Police are also facing a lawsuit regarding Marshall Miles, a 36-year-old African American man who died in jail after being restrained.

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Having Fresh Flowers In Your Home Can Reduce Pain And Anxiety

Flowers can help alleviate anxiety and pain, so go ahead and buy that bouquet

Buying flowers is the go-to gesture when you’re trying to cheer someone up or to let them know you are thinking about them. They are a day-brightener for sure, but now there’s one more reason to buy them for ourselves and those we love — they’ve been shown to reduce pain and anxiety.

The American Society for Horticulture Science performed a study to determine whether plants have positive therapeutic effects on people who were recovering from surgery and the results were pretty astounding. Researchers studied 90 patients recovering from appendectomies who were randomly split into rooms either with plants or without plants and measured their physical and psychological responses.

What they found was those who had flowers and plants in their rooms “had significantly fewer intakes of postoperative analgesics, more positive physiological responses evidenced by lower systolic blood pressure and heart rate, lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and more positive feelings and higher satisfaction about their rooms when compared with patients in the control group.”

This isn’t the first research to study the effects of flowers on humans. An 11-year study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found leisure activities like gardening have been shown to have the same benefits as hitting the gym. It revealed that as little as one hour a week of “leisure-time physical activity,” like spending time with your plants, can be as healthy for you as a workout, with the added bonus of not spending time around sweaty strangers.

Having Fresh Flowers In Your Home Can Reduce Pain And Anxiety

Obviously, indoor plants don’t have the exact same health benefits as digging around in your garden but they have been shown to improve air quality, reduce stress, and even “induce positive changes in the brain’s electrical activity, heart activity, and muscle tension.”

If you are anything like me, flowers can sometimes cause stress rather than relieve it because you have the added pressure of keeping something else alive. I’ve managed to find a workaround and have a windowsill full of succulents — all the beauty with none of the maintenance. It’s a win-win for all.

Having Fresh Flowers In Your Home Can Reduce Pain And Anxiety

Others I know have fresh bouquets of flowers in their homes at all times and say the blooms make their houses feel more “homey,” brighten up their days, and make them happy just by looking at them. They are basically like our kids but without the backtalk. Plus, with so many varieties and colors of flowers and blooming plants available, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

“If properly maintained, indoor plants can provide a great opportunity for patients to experience nature in all seasons when outdoor scenery cannot provide this benefit,” the study concluded. Researchers also suggest that flowers should be “complementary medicine” for recovering patients, ad a much more natural one at that.

No need to wait until you are recovering from surgery — today seems like the perfect day to go out and treat yo’self to a giant bouquet.

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California Teachers Have To Pay For Their Own Subs While On Sick Leave

The issue was brought to light after an elementary school teacher with cancer had to pay $200 a day for a substitute

When a second grade teacher in San Francisco’s public school system was diagnosed with breast cancer, she quickly ran through her ten allotted sick days while undergoing treatment. And because of a 40-year-old California state law, she’s paying for the substitute teacher who’s helming her class during each day of her extended sick leave. Specifically, while the teacher, who has asked to stay anonymous, fights for her life, she’s also losing $195 a day, straight from her paycheck.

Now that the beloved teacher’s story has hit the news, parents, teachers, administrators, and politicians are trying to understand why these laws exist and trying to take steps to get them dismantled if possible.

The history of the law goes back to the mid-1970s, when the rule was added to the state education code: instead of paying into a state disability program like most other workers, their pay is docked when they face an extended leave. At the time, it was considered good that teachers could retain partial pay even when sick with a long-term illness, and good that they couldn’t be fired for being sick. Today, though, it seems most people agree it’s time to update it to a system that works a lot better.

“I’m sorry we don’t have a better system in place,” state Senator Connie Leyva said in a recent interview. “We couldn’t help you, but we’re going to try and fix it for future teachers.”

She’s been working with the California Teachers Association (CTA) to discuss solutions. Until now, teachers have had a bank of donated sick days that they could give to each other, but the teacher in question never joined the “catastrophic sick bank pool” and can’t access the days on a technicality.

“Some of our advocates in Sacramento are talking with both the governor’s office and with Connie Leyva and others who have expressed interest as this continues to go viral,” Eric Heins, president of the California Teachers Association, told NPR. “There’s a lot of discussion about it and outrage and … you can say rightfully so.”

“I just can’t believe how grossly unfair it is,” parent Amanda Kahn Fried told KQED News. “Can you imagine telling doctors they have to pay for their replacements? It just doesn’t make sense. That’s not the employee’s responsibility — that’s the employer’s responsibility.”

But there are complications: changing the rules will be expensive, and public education budgets are tighter than ever. Just months ago, 30,000 California teachers went on strike in L.A. 

It’s far from the first time that a teacher has been affected. Another teacher, at Sheridan Elementary School in San Francisco, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, the year after having a baby and buying a house with her husband. Suddenly, the teacher, Heather Burns, went from a secure life to being sick with a young child, a mortgage, and a fraction of her paycheck.

“It’s absolutely outrageous and leaves you in a state of desperation when your cancer diagnosis already has taken your hope away,” she told NPR. “I’m sick. I just had surgery. I’ve just gotten diagnosed with breast cancer. My world is falling apart and they just send me my paycheck. And I literally had to figure out with my husband how we were gonna make things work, get my treatment over the summer, and go back to work so I didn’t have to pay for a sub.”

She went back to work before her doctor advised her to, just to pay the bills.

In the more recent case, the teacher has a GoFundMe account to help her family survive – an all too familiar tool that so many are using as they navigate our flawed health care system and poor worker leave programs.

“She is an impeccable teacher who has taught at Glen Park School for 17 years,” the page explains. “Technically, she stands out as a true professional who is dedicated to her craft.  She approaches each student as an individual in order to help them maximize their progress in their academic endeavors.  Her dedication and love for her students can’t be understated. Just a few days after her surgery, she took the time to write out 22 completely personalized notes to the students in the class thanking them for their support, telling them she missed them dearly and encouraging them to continue working hard.”

Hopefully, the laws will change. But likely not in time to help this teacher – despite her 17 years of dedication to the school and kids, she’ll have to rely on donated funds to get through this hard time.

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Whether You Love Dogs Is Literally In Your DNA

You might have a dog just because you love dogs – but did you ever wonder why you love them?

A new study out of  Uppsala University has found that one of the big reasons that dog owners own dogs may literally be found in their blood. Researchers in the United Kingdom and Sweden studied over 35,000 pairs of twins and discovered that people’s propensity to care for canines has a lot more to do with DNA and genetics than we previously thought.

“We were surprised to see that a person’s genetic make-up appears to be a significant influence in whether they own a dog,” said Tove Fall, lead author of the study and a professor at the Department of Medical Sciences at Uppsala University. “These findings have major implications in several different fields related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and in modern times. Although dogs and other pets are common household members across the globe, little is known how they impact our daily life and health. Perhaps some people have a higher innate propensity to care for a pet than others.”

The researchers used data from the Swedish Twin registry, which is the largest such registry in the world. Started in the 1960s, it tracks info from tens of thousands of twins, and allows scientists to study genetic matters in ways that we otherwise can’t. Scientists often compare identical twins with non-identical twins – allowing them to contrast two people with the same genes to two people who only share about half their genes.

The study found that more than half of the variance regarding dog ownership was due to genetics – that is, that whether or not you own a pup has a lot to do with who you are when you’re born, and much less to do with your environment.

“These kind of twin studies cannot tell us exactly which genes are involved, but at least demonstrate for the first time that genetics and environment play about equal roles in determining dog ownership,” said Patrik Magnusson, senior author of the study and professor in Epidemiology at Karolinska Insitutet and Head of the Swedish Twin Registry. “The next obvious step is to try to identify which genetic variants affect this choice and how they relate to personality traits and other factors such as allergy.”

What can we learn from the study? Researchers hope we can better understand why we domesticated dogs about 15,000 years ago, as well as how dogs help us today and why we continue to make them part of our homes and families.

“The study has major implications for understanding the deep and enigmatic history of dog domestication” said study co-author Keith Dobney, a Human Palaeoecology professor at the University of Liverpool. “Decades of archaeological research have helped us construct a better picture of where and when dogs entered into the human world, but modern and ancient genetic data are now allowing us to directly explore why and how?”

There’s also a slight downer related to the study: it might explain why other studies have found that dog owners are healthier. In other words, you might simply be healthier not only because dogs keep you active or create a loving environment, but simply because dog owners are genetically healthier than other people.

“These findings are important as they suggest that supposed health benefits of owning a dog reported in some studies may be partly explained by different genetics of the people studied,” said co-other Carri Westgarth, aHuman-Animal interaction professor at the University of Liverpool.

All in all, it’s a combination of environmental factors (like living somewhere with a yard) and genetic factors that result in people adopting pets, but how your ancestors felt about doggos has more to do with your pet ownership than we every thought.

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School District Allows Active Shooter Drill Gunman To Wear Arabic Headdress

Pennsylvania school district produces active shooter drill video in which the gunman wore a headdress

Video of a very disturbing active shooter drill in a Pennsylvania school has been circulating online, because its content is truly unreal. The school’s “gunman” during the drill was wearing what appears to be a kaffiyeh, which is a traditional Middle Eastern headdress. Now, people are calling the school out and wondering what on earth made them think this was in any way acceptable.

The Penn-Trafford School District is rightfully taking plenty of heat for allowing the “shooter” in a recent drill to wear the headdress. “To stereotype the shooter is appalling given the data on active shooters and the recent shootings at the Tree of Life and Christ Church,” Elaine Linn, board secretary of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The action of Penn-Trafford puts our community of over 10,000 Muslims in the greater Pittsburgh area in great harm.”

Pretty blatant, right? That person definitely seems to have on a Middle Eastern headdress. Of course, Penn-Trafford district officials claim it wasn’t deliberate.

“These volunteers were provided costumes and accessories by the consultant group to alter their appearance so that they were not readily recognizable by their co-workers,” a statement from the district read. “There was no intent to represent any particular culture or religion.”

The video of the drill was produced by district students and the shooter was dressed in a long blonde wig, dark zip-up sweatshirt and paintball mask over his face, all of which was part of the original plan. Organizers of the video production say the headscarf was not.

Security training company Command Excellence staged the drill and says the scarf was part of a collection of props to disguise the actor playing the shooter. John Sakoian, president and founder of Command Excellence, says the scarf was just a neck scarf, like one “somebody would wear on a motorcycle.”

“He completely, innocently converted it to that,” Sakoian says. “It’s not just a Muslim headdress. It was a neck scarf.”

However, Sakoian also admits he didn’t authorize the shooter to wear the scarf – -nor did he see the video, which he appears in, until it was published. “They’re good people,” Sakoian says of the drill’s 350 participants. “Nobody tried to do anything to offend anybody. The drills are not meant to identify any race or religion or group or creed of people.”

Sixty-two of the 110 mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and February 2019 were carried out by a white gunman. The deadliest was 2017’s Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 music festival that ended in the deaths of 58 people, also carried out by a white gunman. The Parkland shooter was white. The Sandy Hook shooter was white. As these statistics prove, the majority of mass shooters are white. So why perpetuate the harmful and bigoted myth

“This is something in a school, we are conditioning children to have these negative views against Muslims,” says Wasi Mohamed of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.“It drives a rhetoric. We are already seeing the media is mentioning Muslims in a negative light, now we have to see it is a school-shooting training video. People think it is normal, but it is consistently a problem.”

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Missouri Senate Passes Bill Banning Abortions After 8 Weeks

On the heels of Georgia and Alabama, Missouri passes its own strict abortion bill

Today members of Missouri’s Senate passed a bill prohibiting women from having abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy or later, making them the third state in a month to pass some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Yep, the Handmaid’s Tale is seriously coming to life.

The measure, which passed in a 24 white republicans-to-10 vote, will return to the state’s House. If approved, it will land on the desk of Republican Governor Mike Parson — a Trump-supporting white dude (recently appointed to the Council of Governors by POTUS) who is anatomically incapable of birthing a baby. Seems fair, right? “Thanks to the leaders in the House and Senate, we have the opportunity to be one of the strongest pro-life states in the country,” Parson declared on Wednesday.

The bill declares that any abortions performed would be considered a felony and that “any person who knowingly performs or induces an abortion of an unborn child in violation of this subsection shall be guilty of a class B felony, as well as subject to suspension or revocation of his or her professional license.” In better news, women on the receiving end of those abortions will not be prosecuted. So at least there is that.

The law also clearly states that there are no exceptions to the abortion ban, even in cases of rape, incest or a diagnosis of Down syndrome, which is pretty disturbing.

If you are gasping out of horror right now (because we totally are) keep in mind that Missouri’s initially proposed anti-abortion law was even stricter, but thanks to some hard-fighting democrats some revisions were made. Not only would it have banned abortions after the detection of a heartbeat — about six weeks into a pregnancy — but it would also have forced the second parent to be notified before a minor had an abortion.

This latest blow to anyone with a vagina (and humanity in general) comes less than 24 hours after Governor Kay Ivey — a republican woman — signed off on Alabama’s abortion ban, which was passed by 25 lawmakers sans uterus. The Alabama law makes it illegal for anyone to get an abortion post-heartbeat, which basically means it makes abortion illegal period, as it’s not so easy to detect a pregnancy prior to a heartbeat.

Georgia governor Brian Kemp kicked off anti-abortion month on May 7, proudly signing a similar law into effect. Both Alabama and Georgia made exceptions for cases in which the pregnant woman’s life or health would be in danger.

“(The bill) is very simple but also very powerful: a declaration that all life has value, that all life matters, and that all life is worthy of protection,” Kemp said at the time. “I realize that some may challenge it in a court of law. But our job is to do what is right, not what is easy. We are called to be strong and courageous, and we will not back down. We will always continue to fight for life.”

People are outraged about this latest blow to women’s rights — and rightfully so.

Many of the other Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Cory Booker, are making abortion one of their biggest platforms of the upcoming elections, but we can only pray that anti-abortion laws don’t sweep the nation before it is too late.

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Chobani CEO Pays Off District’s Lunch Debt So Kids Don’t Have To Eat Jelly Sandwiches

Chobani CEO pays off lunch debt for entire school district

This week, we heard the sad and infuriating news that a school district in Rhode Island was serving sun butter and jelly sandwiches to kids whose lunch accounts weren’t paid off. Well, news travels fast, and once the story made the rounds, people were pretty upset to hear that little kids were being given a cold jelly sandwich while their peers had hot meals.

A lot of people got upset, but one seriously stepped up — Hamdi Ulukaya, the CEO of Chobani, has donated $77,000 to cover the school lunch debts of kids in the Warwick Public School district. He took to Twitter to explain why the story moved him to action.

“The last thing that kids should worry about today is if there’s a warm lunch for them at school — and the shame they might feel if their classmates realize they can’t afford a school lunch,” Chobani said in a press release. The company says they’re working “to bring attention to the national crisis of food insecurity among students.”

The jelly sandwich rule was going to effect about 9,000 kids in the school district, from kindergarten to 12th grade, and that decision was made based on the fact that the law requiring schools to feed their kids doesn’t say anything about what they feed them. Almost 70 percent of kids in the Warwick school district qualify for free or reduced lunch, however, kids with free lunches can still run up a bill on their lunch account for picking up extra items like milk.

“As a parent, this news breaks my heart. For every child, access to naturally nutritious and delicious food should be a right, not a privilege. When our children are strong, our families are stronger,” Ulukaya said. “And when our families are strong, our communities are stronger. Business can and must do its part to solve the hunger crisis in America and do its part in the communities they call home.”

The thing is, there’s nothing great about a country that can’t make sure its kids are fed at school. Having a full belly makes it easier to focus and learn — if there are kids having a sandwich full of sugar they won’t be able to focus as well as their peer who had a healthy meal. As wonderful as it is to see someone like Ulukaya stepping up, he really shouldn’t have to in the wealthiest country in the world.

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Mom Sues Etsy After Son Was Strangled To Death By Amber Teething Necklace

One grieving mother hopes to spread awareness about the danger of amber teething necklaces

After her son died from strangulation, one mother is seeking a wrongful death lawsuit against popular online retailer Etsy. She hopes to force the company to take responsibility for the 2.1 million sellers on the site who sell amber teething necklaces for infants and toddlers.

Danielle Morin’s 18-month-old son, Deacon, was slowly strangled to death while he napped at his daycare center back in 2016. He was wearing a teething necklace at the time — one she had received as a baby shower present. At some point, the teething necklace snagged on something and tightened around the boy’s neck, rendering him unconscious, according to the Fontana Police Department. He was taken to the hospital, where he died five days later.

“He was the sweetest little boy,” she tells ABC News. I was a single mom so we were very close. We had a very special relationship.”

The wrongful death suit was filed by Morin in San Bernardino County Superior Court in California. “This dangerous product from Lithuania would never be here in California, or the United States, except for Etsy,” says Morin’s attorney, John Carpenter, in relation to the amber teething necklaces.

The FDA recently put out a report against these types of teething necklaces. While they are certainly trendy, they’re also a total sham — and dangerous. “The FDA has received reports of death and serious injuries to infants and children, including strangulation and choking, caused by teething jewelry, such as amber teething necklaces,” the statement reads. “Given the breadth of the market for these teething necklaces and jewelry, we’re sharing this important safety information directly to consumers in order to help prevent injuries in infants and kids.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends alternative ways for treating teething pain, such as rubbing inflamed gums with a clean finger or using a teething ring made of firm rubber. The risks, as Morin has unfortunately had to endure firsthand, are huge: strangulation, choking, injury to the mouth, and infection.

The FDA says choking can occur if the necklace or bracelet breaks and a bead enters the child’s throat or airway. The strangulation risk is also very real as the necklace can not only twist and become too tightly wrapped around the neck, it can also catch on other objects including parts of the baby’s crib.

Etsy’s lawyers requested that Morin’s lawsuit be thrown out of court. “Etsy cannot and does not make any warranties about their quality, safety or even their legality,” the Etsy user agreement reads. “Any legal claim related to an item you purchase must be brought directly against the sellers of the item. You release Etsy from any claims related to items sold through our Services.”

The lawsuit has been allowed to proceed because the Baltic amber teething necklace that Deacon was wearing at the time of his death was a gift. Since the loss of her son, Morin regularly purchases teething necklaces from baby supply stores — but these ones have a breakaway safety clasp. She then hands the safety necklaces out to parents when she sees their children wearing amber teething necklaces.

“I’ve probably had a handful now that I’ve switched out,” she said. “And when talking to them about where they were purchased, Etsy seems to be a big name that they’re throwing out,” Morin said. She says knows a lot of people might place the blame on her for her son’s death, which is possibly the cruelest thing you can do to an innocent, grieving mother.

“Well, it said that it was a baby necklace and I assumed that it was safe. I would have never knowingly put a dangerous product in the hands of my child.”

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High School Is Refusing To Use Trans Teen’s Chosen Name At Graduation

The teen’s father has started a petition to get his son’s school to read his chosen name at graduation

The father of a graduating high school senior who is transgender has started a petition addressed to the school principal asking that his son’s chosen name be read at the graduation ceremony rather than his “deadname,” the name he was given at birth.

The document is addressed to Dr. Park Ginder, the principal of Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana — and the words are enough to break any parent’s heart. In it, Brian Thomas pleads for his son to be called Wyatt, the name he chose for himself early on in high school.

“My transgender child is a senior this year and will graduate in early June. He has been going by his preferred name since the summer between his freshman and sophomore year. Teachers, pastors, managers, family and friends know him as a boy named Wyatt. But at graduation, because of an unwritten standard the school administration is unwilling to change, he will be called by his dead name. What is meant to be a celebration will instead be yet another moment of humiliation and embarrassment,” the petition reads.

“As Wyatt’s parents, we ask that our wishes be honored on behalf of our precious child. Call the name he will bear legally once the lengthy process of a name change is complete. Call him what his future university calls him. Call him what we and many others call him every day. Call him Wyatt.”

And shouldn’t that be enough? A child and his parents have requested he be called by his chosen name. Why the opinion or “policy” of the school should even come into play is confusing. Surely any “unwritten standard” can be easily amended in order to respect the request of a graduating student and his family. That means we’re left to assume that this is simply hate and abuse at play during a time when this teen should only be celebrating.

Because make no mistake — the practice of deadnaming is absolutely a form of abuse toward a group of people who already experience enough of it. When referring to a transgender individual by their deadname it invalidates their identity. According to Healthline, it can also “out” that person if their deadname is used among people who don’t know they’re transgender, and they may not want to share that information. The National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 U.S. Trans Survey found that 46 percent of transgender people surveyed had experienced verbal harassment while nine percent had been physically assaulted for being transgender.

Knowing those facts, it’s hard to understand why Wyatt’s school can’t abide by his very reasonable request. As his father notes in their petition, Wyatt is working on making his name legal through a “lengthy” name change process. According to the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, institutions (including schools) should support transgender individuals by updating records with their affirmed name even if it’s not legally changed yet. They point out that it avoids both confusion and the possibility of deadnaming.

People signing the petition have left several comments supporting Wyatt and his family. One writes, “As a transgender woman, I personally know how shockingly painful it is to be called by one’s dead name, particularly one purpose. Sending strength, solidarity, and love to Wyatt.”

Wyatt’s brother Ty also chimed in with his support. “Because my brother deserves this. He’s worked hard to find himself these past few years, and being called by his preferred name would be a symbolic culmination of his high school years.”

What’s happening to Wyatt is horribly disrespectful at best and abusive at worst. Hopefully, with this petition gaining speed (it already has over 8,500 signatures) the school will see they’re in the wrong and Wyatt can celebrate his graduation by hearing his own name, just like the rest of his classmates.

If you’d like to help Wyatt, you can sign the petition here.

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