Considering how tolerance and acceptance continue to be buzz words in today's society, it's amazing how difficult it is to be different. While we've become more accepting, there are places - like athletics and first grade classrooms - where the reality hasn't quite reached the ideal yet. The stories of Katie The Star Wars Girl and Kye Allums have both demonstrated that in their own ways. Still, ultimately both have become truly touching stories of success.
If you haven't heard about her yet, Katie The Star Wars Girl is the daughter of ChicagoNow blogger Carrie Goldman, who writes Portrait of An Adoption
. A little less than a month ago Carrie wrote a post
about her daughter that touched the hearts of tons of people around the world. You see, Carrie came home one day and wanted to stop bringing her Star Wars water bottle to school. But it wasn't because she didn't like it anymore; it was because the boys in her first grade class were telling her that Star Wars was for boys.
Katie's story, excellently conveyed by her mother, went viral quickly. The original post has over 8,000 shares on Facebook and Twitter, and more than 1,200 comments were posted before they closed the post. Carrie has spoken about how bullying cropped up in her daughter's life on CNN and MSNBC. Yesterday her story reached the front page of the site
If you can't tell from all the numbers and analysis in this blog, I'm a bit of a geek as well. I remember reading every single Star Wars book as a child as clearly as I remember attending Princeton basketball games. But I guess, because I'm a boy, that's just fine. This seems silly to me. We've come so far in acceptance, yet first grade boys think that it's not okay for a girl in their class to like Star Wars? Why? Where does that idea come from?
On Friday, Dec. 10 an event has been organized to Support Star Wars and Geek Pride for Katie
. If you can do something, even as small as leaving a comment for Katie on the Facebook site or reading the story I linked earlier on Portrait of an Adoption, please do.
Allums' story is a bit different, and where this comes back to basketball. He averages 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per game for the George Washington University
women's basketball team. Allums, a junior, is a transgendered athlete that came out this fall and asked reporters to refer to him using male pronouns. For a while it shook college basketball. It was a big enough story that ESPN's Outside the Lines was at Allums first game.
Because Allums has decided to postpone hormone therapy until after graduation, the NCAA has allowed him to continue playing for the women's team. As the season has gone on, his every move has been chronicled
, but the hysteria has subsided. Thankfully most of the coverage has been positive. Allums teammates and school appear to be very supportive of his decision
and have helped the 5'11 guard throughout the media crush.
The acceptance Allums' teammates is very refreshing, especially in light of what happened in Katie's first grade class. It's comforting to think that somewhere in between those ages we learn something about accepting and cherishing differences. Yet, even still, what do children that young lose from their identity when they're bullied for being different? Hopefully we can continue working so that acceptance starts at an even earlier age.
Good luck to both Kye and Katie as they keep pushing forward.