A father whose 5-year-old son was bullied for wearing manicure to school responded by painting his own nails and sending a powerful message online.
Aaron Gouveia was surprised to learn that his 5-year-old son, Sam refused to go to school one day. He learned that Sam had been bullied by his kindergarten classmates for his painted nails.
Sam’s grandmother is a former nail technician and she would often paint her grandson’s nails. Sam loved it and started wearing them on and off to school for the past two years. He especially liked red and pink.
There was never an issue in school about Sam’s colorful nails which is why his mother, Martha was surprised to learn one day that her son didn’t want to go back to school. He told her it was because his classmates made fun of his nails. Martha told People,
“Sam is usually so happy-go-lucky. And he came out of school when I went to pick him up [on Monday] and he was stoic with a long, drawn face and he took a few steps toward me and just burst into tears.”
When Aaron, who runs a blog called Daddy Files, learned about this, he took to Twitter and posted a series of messages condemning the incident.
“My son is far from perfect but he’s got a huge heart and empathy for miles. He finds beauty in everything around him and for 5 years he’s never been afraid to be different because different has never meant ‘bad.’ Until now.”
Aaron explained that his son loves trucks and plays sports but “he also loves a lot of “girl” things,” including purses which he uses to carry stuff around. He adds,
“And he also loves to have his nails painted bright colors because he thinks they “look beautiful.” And he’s right – they are beautiful…”
Aaron is furious that his son’s mind has been corrupted by gender issues and blames the parents of the children who bullied his son for failing to teach them the value of self-expression.
“I know these kids are only in kindergarten but this toxic masculinity [expletive] is LEARNED. Learned most of the time from parents. So parents, I hope you’re proud. I hope this is what you wanted. I hope you’re satisfied."
“My wife and I spent five years successfully preaching tolerance, acceptance, and the importance of expression and your kids unraveled that in one school day. He now feels the shame you desperately want to associate with being different.”
Sam was devastated, according to Aaron and he insisted on taking off his nail polish. But Aaron sat down with him and explained that he should only take them off because he didn’t want them anymore and not because his classmates told him so.
“After careful consideration, he’s leaving it on,” Aaron tweeted. “Because he likes it and it makes him feel good.”
In solidarity, Aaron’s older son who’s 10 decided to paint his nails too.
“That moved me to paint MY nails,” Aaron recounted.
He posted a photo of him and Sam wearing nail polish to prove a point.
Sam’s disposition has changed since Aaron told him about the tremendous amount of support for him on Twitter. Aaron’s thread earned more than 20,000 retweets in just 24 hours. More importantly, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who Sam idolizes, responded by encouraging the young boy to “do what makes you the happiest and keep being yourself.” He even added that he loved Sam’s color choice – a nod at the Patriots’ hue.
Sam is back to his happy self and has a message for other young boys who want to express themselves the way he does.
“I’ll tell them it’s OK, because I did it.”
It’s important that kids are protected from the harmful effects of bullying. Sam is fortunate his parents stood up for him and kept his spirits high. In Florida, a first grader also got the full support of her teacher after she was ridiculed for her honeybun hairstyle. Tianna Elle is a teacher in Broward County who wanted to comfort her bullied student and show her that her hairstyle was beautiful. So she showed up in school the whole week sporting the honeybun to prove a point. This made her student feel good about herself and erased the embarrassment she felt from her classmates.