A young girl named Layla just witnessed the powerful impact of the Jedi Code. The 8-year-old was ridiculed by classmates for her interest in “Star Wars” — sadly still stereotyped as a “boy” thing. When other fans heard her story, they did something wonderful.
Layla’s mom, Nicolette Molina, believes the trouble started when her daughter moved to a new school in Norfolk, Va. Molina told CNN that Layla suddenly became quieter and didn’t want to wear her R2-D2 jacket. Girls at school were telling her that she shouldn’t like “Star Wars.”
“She was asked if she was turning into a boy,” Molina said.
The 501st Legion, an organized army of “Star Wars” fans, heard Layla’s story and decided to bring her back from the dark side of the Force. Its members rallied messages of support and sent her a special suit of Stormtrooper armor that’s been passed down by other girls who’ve faced similar bullying in the past.
The suit was originally built for a first-grader named Katie Goldman, who was bullied in 2010 for having a “Star Wars” thermos. In 2014, Katie passed it down to an 11-year-old girl named Allison who was bullied and physically abused for liking “Star Wars” and carrying a Spider-Man lunchbox.
After hearing Layla’s story, the 501st Legion got in touch with Allison, who agreed to give the suit to the next girl in need of support.
When the 501st Legion presented Layla with the suit, it just so happened that costumed members were participating in a “Weird Al” Yankovic concert, so they invited Layla to meet the singer.
“This excited young #StarWars fan now proudly carries the trading cards of her 501st supporters in a Chewbacca backpack and can’t wait for the next opportunity to troop in armor,” the 501st Legion wrote on its Facebook page. “Her favorite part of wearing the costume? She loves when people say, ‘What a cute little boy!’ only to discover that there’s a girl under that helmet!”
Other fans who heard Layla’s story have commented on the 501st Legion’s Facebook post with an outpouring of support. Many want to assure Layla that there is room in the galaxy for boys and girls who like “Star Wars.”