AFH Photo // Arryanna Wilson
 As someone who has dreamed of becoming a writer since I was young -- like, six-years- old young -- I’ve come across different blogs, videos and books offering writing tips. Like many others with similar creative outlets, I have struggled with being insecure about my writing. To help combat this, I did research and dug up some useful tips.  
Some ran the risk of making my writing worse, while others helped me see a vast improvement in my writing almost instantly. The latter are the tips I want to share.  
 
Tip 1: WRITE WHENEVER YOU CAN!  
Oh my God! I’ll be the first to admit that this is one of the most generic tips any writer could tell you, but it does not matter, because it works wonderfully! Prior to putting this into practice, I had issues with forgetting story ideas. I also had problems expressing many of my feelings verbally to others. Having the ability to write about them whenever possible led me to be able to let out my emotions and break down mental barriers that have stopped me from writing more stories in the past. Translation: this is a heck of a cure for writer's block.  
 
Tip 2: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil   
Something can’t really be evil if it eventually could be used to write a killer story, right? Ironically, this tip means to be SUPER nosy. It doesn’t have to be in an obvious or annoying way, just be extra observant of the world around you. Next time you’re on the bus, listen to the conversations of the people around you. Take in their mannerisms and stories. Hey, if you’re confident enough, start up a friendly conversation with someone. 
 Try to watch the sunset every night. Think about those little changes in your best friends behaviour when they’re upset. Find a different route to walk home one day. Subjecting yourself to new experiences, as well as acknowledging the small changes in everyday events, can open your eyes to a new perspective. All the new details can bring more life into your writing. 
 This is what lets you express more through your words and helps you notice the difference between “her hair had purple highlights that looked pretty when it moved.” And, “her hair was a winter sunset, the lilac and indigo hues fighting for dominance with every turn of her head.”  
 
Tip 3: Read as much as you write 
 I have found nearly all of my inspiration to write through reading. Read whatever you enjoy, as well as things you feel could fit into your writing style in the future. For people who have creative outlets, originality and uniqueness derive from collections of stolen ideas. The broader your literary palette, the more inspiration you'll be able to draw from and put into your own style.  
Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you to copy and paste the entire Harry Potter series into a word document and say it's yours because you love it so much. But, it could be useful to reference things like J.K. Rowling’s writing style or methods and use them to help mold your own individual style. 

 I hope these tips have inspired you to become more interested in writing and that they will help the future writers of our generation to flourish and grow like the beautiful literary flowers they are. 
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AFH Photo // Kim Han
The spread of false information regarding biology and sexual health is causing women’s rights violations worldwide. The most common misconception involves virginity and the role of the hymen - the thin tissue that stretches across part of the vaginal opening.  
 Some falsely believe that an intact hymen is proof of an individual’s virginity and that if broken, that person is no longer a virgin. However, a hymen can be stretched through vaginal sex, or remain intact. It can also be broken for reasons unrelated to sexual activity. This misconception harms women across the world and causes shame, rejection from career opportunities, and in some cases, even death.  
 In some countries, if a groom finds his bride’s hymen did not break or “bleed” during intercourse, she is deemed not a virgin, and therefore outcast or can face death. 
To this day,women are subjected to virginity testing in Indonesia when seeking military careers. In 2015, HumanRightsWatch.org called for an end to virginity testing of female military recruits and the fiancees of military officers in the Indonesian armed forces.  
In October of 2016, the Huffington Post reported that in Eastern South Africa, in the KwaZulu-Natal province, the uThukela district awarded “maiden bursary” - or scholarships - to unmarried, young women who preserved their virginity with proof of an intact hymen. Gender and human rights activist fought to repeal these scholarships, but cultural leaders are fighting back saying that virginity testing is an integral part of their culture.  
 These examples of women being mistreated because of false information are unfair and unreasonable. They are human rights violations of women, as it damages their access to opportunities and minimizes their physical autonomy.   
Attitudes towards virginity in the United States have begun to evolve. However, there are still people who believe the myth of the hymen. High school students across Boston have different views on the truths and myths on whether an intact hymen is linked to virginity.  
Rayven Frierson, a junior at John D. O’Bryant, believes there would be a “popping” inside of a female’s reproductive organs when the hymen is being broken.  
Daxel Santiago, also a junior at O’Bryant, said, “if you’re stretched out, then you’re not a virgin.” He quickly refuted his own claim by saying, “but you can lose it by playing sports.” 
 He ultimately agreed that there should be a lesson on this topic in health or biology to fix this misunderstanding. 
Stephen Fiascone J., M.D., a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, offered further insight. He said a hymen can rupture through sports or use of tampons. Some girls are born with hymenal tissue that covers the entire opening, crosses in the middle of the vaginal opening, or may have little to no hymenal tissue.  
A solution to stop the spread of false information is to have a robust and thorough sexual education course. Teens should be prepared to face the world with accurate and reliable information that encompasses reality. Not only would this help prevent ignorance in the U.S., but potentially set an example for science and women’s rights around the world. 
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AFH Photo // Clinton Nguyen
Dear Donald Trump,  
You are president now. Congratulations. You won a race that not many can say they did, and that is quite the accomplishment. That said, I want to express a few concerns I have with several decisions you have made since taking office. 
Mr. Trump, you signed an executive order that suspends admission of all Syrian refugees from entering this country and severely limits that of other refugees by implementing a process of ‘extreme vetting.’ You have taken steps toward banning all people seeking freedom from their terror-stricken countries from entering America. You state this is necessary because of the danger refugees pose. I’d like to remind you that there have been zero fatal terror attacks in the U.S. by immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia since before 9/11. I’d also like to remind you that nearly 500,000 people have died from gun violence since that date, and yet you oppose sensible gun laws.  
You have also instituted cuts of federal funds to international organizations that support Planned Parenthood. Mr. Trump, I hope you are aware that Planned Parenthood does much more than provide safe and accessible abortions, seeing as I am aware that you do not approve of such acts. Planned Parenthood provides nearly five million people worldwide with birth control, life saving healthcare and sex education for women and men who otherwise might not receive it. Opposing such an important foundation, although it may not personally effect you, could mean that thousands of women would lose their right to safe and often vital care.  
Additionally, I would like to address your stance on marriage equality. You have stated that you are a “traditional guy.” Mr. Trump, how can you justify denying the rights of another human to love whom they want to love by stating your personal feelings towards the matter?  
You have also chosen as a partner Mike Pence, an adamant opponent of LGBTQA rights. I have no doubt that you are of adequate intelligence, so I ask why you would bring someone so filled with misguided hate as your running mate? I would like to hear your reasons why, and I’m sure the roughly 10 million Americans who identify as gay or lesbian --  whom you have vowed to protect and defend the rights of when you claimed to be “president for all Americans” -- would like to know as well.  
I want to make one final plea, Mr. Trump. You are president for the next four years. I ask on behalf of immigrants, refugees, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQA, and women: please work for all of us. America thrives on diversity, equality, and equal opportunity. I fear that your administration will prevent that from continuing. Prove me wrong, Mr. Trump. Prove that you can be a conservative who still respects and upholds the fundamental rights of all people. For the country, for the people, and for me.  
Thank you,  
Audrey Martin
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AFH Photo // Gilford Murphy
Despite becoming more common in the public eye, transgender people still frequently face oppression and discrimination.  
Transgender is an umbrella term for individuals who identify as a gender they were not born as. For example, a transwoman is an individual who was born male and now identifies as female. Not all transgender individuals go through sex reassignment surgery. The transitioning process may be different for some people. 
A trans person's right to use the bathroom in which they feel most comfortable is a hot debate recently. Some argue they should use the bathroom of the gender they were born as. Others maintain that a trans person has the right to choose which bathroom to use.  
Some fear that a trans person would use their privilege to harass women and children in bathrooms. This is unreasonable. After years of discrimination, who would want to face continuous backlash from transphobia? 
“Trans people should certainly have a right to choose their bathroom. It is a human necessity and whichever gender they find fit, they should use it,” said Lina Huang, a junior at  Boston Latin School.  
In 2016 North Carolina passed House Bill 2 which required individuals in government buildings to only use the bathroom of the sex listed on their birth certificate. The bill also said that individual cities and counties couldn’t pass their own laws to protect the rights of LGBTQ people.   
 On March 30, North Carolina partially reversed House Bill 2 after national backlash and replaced it with House Bill 142.  This bill allows people to use bathrooms of their preference in government buildings. However, the new bill prevents local governments from making any laws to protect LGBTQ people until 2020. Can the LGBTQIA community wait four years for their rights to be gained? 
Executive Director of the Boston Alliance of Gay Lesbian Bisexual & Transgender Youth, Grace Sterling Stowell, who identifies as a trans woman, says, “When laws are passed that discriminate a certain group of people, I think that it's wrong… and it’s concerning that states have laws that hurt us.” 
On March 30th, a ‘Free Speech Bus’ arrived at Boston City Hall which read “Boys are boys … and always will be. Girls are girls … and always will be… You can’t change sex. Respect all.” Their idea of ‘respect’ is ironic, as this message encourages transphobia. Is it alright to use freedom of speech to discriminate and oppress?  
Junior at the John D. O’Bryant High School, Jonathan Duque says, “To make such a claim without acknowledging another person's perspective is just ignorant and wrong. Certain issues will not always be either black or white; sometimes there is a mix of gray, and this has to be accounted for.” 
Stowell believe it is important that we all step up and become allies. “Whether it be trans or people of color, or gay, lesbian, and bi people, or immigrants or Muslims. We should all step up as allies to protect each other and we will be stronger together,” she said.  
We need to educate ourselves and become aware of the conditions in the trans community. There are resources on the web or through local organizations. In order to respect groups of people that are mistreated due to their beliefs, we must stop discriminating against their non-binary identity. We should respect them for who they are, not shunning them from society. As someone who does not identify as trans, I will never experience the repressive treatment they receive. Though, I will continue to be an ally, giving them the help and support they deserve.  

Tips To Becoming An Ally For Transgender People 
1. Don’t assume someone is transgender just by looking. 
2. Don't make assumptions about a transgender person's sexual orientation. 
3. If you don't know what pronouns to use, listen first and ask. 
4. Understand the difference between "coming out" as lesbian, bisexual, or gay and "coming out" as transgender. 
5. Never ask "What's Your Real Name?" 
6. Never ask “What does your genitals look like?” 
7. Don’t assume someone is transgender because they are an ally. 


  • Resources: 
  • BAGLY is a youth-led, adult-supported social support organization committed to social justice, and creating, sustaining and advocating for programs, policies, and services for the LGBTQIA youth community. For more information about their programs and events, please visit their website at www.bagly.org 

  • More helpful tips could be found at GLAAD
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AFH Photo // Alejandra Spruill
The world is ending and it’s not aliens with orange skin and exotic hair that are destroying it -- although slightly responsible. It is us. Soon enough, planet Earth will be decimated by the huge, orange, glowing sphere of hot gas it circles if we don't take action against climate change.  
It is understandable that with Instagram, the Kardashians, and Pepsi commercials, we have other things to worry about than the inevitable doom we’re heading towards. However, climate change is already impacting our world in countless ways. Polar bears are losing their habitats and dying. Imagine, the beautiful ruler of the ice caps, being the next thing Kendall Jenner hands a Pepsi to. 
Young people play a critical role in preventing this tragedy according to Dr. David Nurenberg, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at Lesley University and a teacher with G.L.O.B.E Consortium, which educates teens about global warming, green technology, and how young people can get involved.  
Dr. Nurenberg stated that climate change is already impacting lives around the world in the form of shifting weather patterns, changes in the populations and behavior of local species, and rising sea levels. “Even if we were to somehow halt human-caused global warming tomorrow, these effects would still persist and increase in magnitude for decades into the future. This is the future in which teens will become adults, try and raise families, and it looks to be a future in which all of those things will be harder for them than it was for my generation.” 
The neglect of the environment today will impact tomorrow’s world. 2016 was the hottest year on record. The warming of the planet caused destruction through habitat loss, extreme hurricanes and severe heat waves all around the world. We have to start making the changes needed to curb these tragedies now, before the things we take for granted become inaccessible, out of reach, and there will be no going back.  
Some adults, and even more teens, believe that young people can’t do much to help. It can often seem that this generation’s voices are not important and opinions are useless. Most of us have already given up on taking part in change because we feel powerless. But that is completely false. 
 Dr. Nurenberg explained that the idea of teenagers not having a voice is a “carefully constructed myth designed to keep teens quiet, inactive and cynical consumers.” 
Teenagers have been changing the world for a long time. Take William Kamkwamba, a Malawian boy who built a windmill to power his home at age 14. Taylor Wilson, also at age 14, built a nuclear fusion reactor, which he believes can be a solution to our future energy needs. Kamkwamba and Wilson are prime examples of teenagers who didn’t wait to become “someone important” before they took action, and we need to join them.  
Anthony Zeng is a sophomore at the John D. O’Bryant High School and a member of the Alliance For Climate Education (ACE). He and dozens of other teenagers fight climate change by advocating to their local legislative members and empowering other teens to join the battle. They recently petitioned for 100% renewable energy in schools and spoke with Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley. They plan and organize events like teach-ins and rallies. Zeng and other ACE members contribute time, action and youth voices in the climate change movement. They are models for students who falsely believe their voices don't matter.  
 Dr. Nurenberg suggested other ways teens can take action today. “Teens can organize carbon reduction programs, recycling and reuse efforts. They can campaign for political candidates (even if they can't vote) and they can organize boycotts or other shifts in their and others' buying patterns. Teens today have more access and facility with social media than any other generation, so they can use it to spread and magnify the effects of the work they do.” 
Teenagers are capable of creating positive change. They bring in new perspectives, ideas, and a much needed spirit. As a result, their contributions are vital in helping polar bears survive -- without Kendall Jenner's help.  
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