HONG KONG — No one invited Bu Yunhao to be in their group for the annual class trip. The other fifth graders at Shanghai Shangde Experimental School made fun of the 11-year-old, calling him “too girly.”
“I wanted to run away, right out of the classroom,” said Yunhao, now 13 and a first-year middle schooler in Shanghai, China’s largest city.
Some of Yunhao’s classmates made fun of his high-pitched voice and the way he “screamed” when he tried to maintain discipline among his fellow students as a class monitor. Others teased him for spending so much time with girls and said he acted like he was “trying to date” the other boys in the class.
The bullying eventually stopped, but a recent announcement by the government that singles out boys who don’t fit traditional Chinese ideas of masculinity has revived the painful memories. The plan to “encourage masculinity” in male students has inflamed a debate over modern gender roles as China’s government increasingly emphasizes what many consider to be outdated and damaging stereotypes for men and boys.