Last week, Chicago Now blogger Carrie Goldman took to her blog, a Portrait of an Adoption, to discuss how bullying can start at a very young age. After a spate of bullying-related suicides and during Anti-Bullying Week in schools, it was not exactly a surprising time to bring up the subject--but the outpouring of support Goldman saw following her post came as a welcomed shock.
In her post, Goldman explained that her 7-year-old adopted daughter Katie has been teased at school for her love of "Star Wars." After bringing her "Star Wars" backpack and water bottle to school, boys in Katie's first grade class mocked her, saying that "'Star Wars' is for boys.'"
"I felt really bad," Katie told WGN's Marcus LeShock.
Goldman felt bad as well.
"I would love to be able to show Katie that she is not alone, that other females appreciate Star Wars," Katie's mom wrote in her blog. "If there are any female Star Wars fans reading this, please feel free to show your support for Katie. I will let her read your messages or comments, and I think she will be surprised by what I suspect is a vast number of female fans."
Many people took Goldman up on her offer. Within days, 82,000 people had viewed her post on a Portrait of an Adoption, and the story was picked up by "Star Wars" fan sites all over the country. A "MayTheForceBeWithKatie" Twitter hashtag even popped up.
With her newfound support, Katie has been a lot more confident about her "Star Wars" love. Goldman told WGN News that she proudly wore her father's "Star Wars" shirt to school since receiving such kind words from strangers.
Goldman hopes Katie's story will inspire parents and teachers to nip bullying in the bud at an early age. From her blog:
Being different is a complicated topic. We say that we celebrate diversity, and we preach tolerance. But at the same time, we as adults are often fearful of those who are different. I see people tease each other for being gay or poor or overweight. I see grown-ups bullying others for holding different religious and political beliefs.
I see people publicly lauding diversity and privately attacking those who are different.
It trickles down to kids teasing each other for the types of toys they prefer. So it starts now, with a couple first graders and a water bottle. Right here, right now, we as a community need to recognize the slippery slope of bullying those who are different. We need to show our support for each other's choices, as long as they do no harm.
WATCH WGN's interview with Katie and her mom here: