A disturbing Star Wars-related story that is spreading around the Internet this evening has touched off an encouraging conversation in response. For the summary, here's an excerpt from Carrie Goldman's original blog post about an incident with her daughter Katie:
Katie loves Star Wars, and she was very excited about her new items. For the first few months of school, she proudly filled her water bottle herself and helped me pack her lunch each morning.
But a week ago, as we were packing her lunch, Katie said, "My Star Wars water bottle is too small. It doesn't hold enough water. Can I take a different one?" She searched through the cupboard until she found a pink water bottle and said, "I'll bring this."
I was perplexed. "Katie, that water bottle is no bigger than your Star Wars one. I think it is actually smaller."
"It's fine, I'll just take it," she insisted.
I kept pushing the issue, because it didn't make sense to me. Suddenly, Katie burst into tears.
She wailed, "The first grade boys are teasing me at lunch because I have a Star Wars water bottle. They say it's only for boys. Every day they make fun of me for drinking out of it. I want them to stop, so I'll just bring a pink water bottle."
Goldman asked for people to post encouraging thoughts, and after significant publicity (including a retweet from @StarWars), her post and a follow-up article on EPBOT.com have been inundated with positive messages for Katie Goldman. Dark Horse Comics has even pledged to send her a box full of Star Wars comics.
As of this writing, there are around 410 comments on Goldman's post (which requires a ChicagoNow.com account to leave feedback) and 1,460 comments on the EPBOT site (which, as it's powered by Blogger, does not require special registration).
We encourage you to share your positive messages for Katie at either (or both) of these sites. Show her that we Star Wars fans are a friendly bunch and that being one of us is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter how old you are or what your gender is. No identity characteristic (race, political viewpoint, religion, etc.) precludes you from being a member of the Star Wars fan community. The Force is with all of us.
In an addendum to her post, Goldman responded to the outpouring of support for Katie:
Katie is overjoyed by the comments coming in!!! My sweet first grade daughter has been sitting with me at the computer, reading aloud all the wonderful, supportive notes from readers, and her face is shining. Each night after dinner, we are going to sit together, and she is going to read several comments to me and her daddy. We are going to print the comments out and make a book for her to read whenever she feels the need. Today she wore a Star Wars shirt to school and said to me, "Tell the people about it!!!!" This is really restoring her self confidence.
UPDATE #4: The responses keep pouring in! Star Wars comic artist Jan Duursema has also left a comment on the blog post.
UPDATE #5: The "Geeking Out About..." blog has posted a recap of the response from a variety of sources. Yoda voice actor Tom Kane has invited Katie to be his guest at a Chicago movie premiere for The Clone Wars, and a Star Wars sketch card artist has drawn a card depicting Katie holding a lightsaber. Katie's mother also shared her reaction to the comment from Catherine Taber:
“Katie has not yet reacted because she goes to bed at 7 pm, and we had not yet read the comment by Catherine! But when my husband and I found out, we were amazed,” she wrote in an email. “We kept looking at each other and laughing and saying, ‘Oh My God!’"
UPDATE #6:Star Wars author Christie Golden has left a message for Katie (thanks to Erich Schoeneweiss from Random House for the heads-up). Additionally, Carrie Goldman has created a new blog post where you can continue to leave comments. (Goldman says her daughter is reading all of them.) Also be sure to follow the #MayTheForceBeWithKatie Twitter hashtag and post your own encouragement.
UPDATE #7: The 501st and Rebel Legion are teaming up and asking their female members to help put together an "Anti-Bullying Voicemail" for Katie. Details are posted here on the 501st forums, and remember, they're asking for voicemails from women only. (Thanks Derek!) Also, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has made its feelings known about Katie's situation!