An excited five-year-old Sam on his first day of preschool.
Would you let your son wear pink zebra print shoes to his first day of preschool?
A five-year-old American boy was allowed to do just that but his family couldn't have anticipated the reaction that would follow when a photo of young Sam wearing the ‘girls’ shoes went viral online.
His mother posted the photo to her Facebook timeline until an onslaught of negative responses from her family forced her to remove it.
The harshest of which came from the boy’s great aunt, who wrote "that sh*t will turn him gay".
While other family members commented on how "wrong" it was and how "things like this will affect him socially".
Sam’s older sister was so outraged by her family’s response that she was moved to repost the photo to Have A Gay Day’s Facebook page with a detailed explanation of the event.
The photo has since been shared over 20,000 times and has over 130,000 Facebook likes.
Her mother had explained to her younger brother that the shoes were really made for girls but he was untroubled by this fact and simply responded with, "ninjas can wear pink shoes too."
The response from his preschool was nothing but positive.
"Sam went to preschool and got several compliments on his new shoes. Not one kid said anything negative toward him about it," she wrote.
"What does it say about society when a group of adults could stand to take a lesson in humanity from a class of preschoolers?" she asked.
But would you let your child wear something that you thought would get them teased?
It is the last thing mother and blogger, Mary Fischer, would allow her son to wear to school.
"Somehow I'm guessing if my son were to put on that same pair of shoes, he wouldn't even make it through the five-minute bus ride to school in the morning before someone laughed at him, asked him why in the heck he was wearing pink shoes, spewed all sorts of mean jokes his way, or told him he was dressed like a girl," she writes in her post on The Stir.
While Fischer supported the mother’s intentions to allow her son to be free express himself, she states that she wouldn't risk crushing her own son’s self esteem at such a young age.
"Bullying is bad enough as it is without handing tormentors their material on a silver platter," she writes.
You can read her full post here.
Sam has since told his mother that he didn't like the shoes because they were pink but because they were "made out of zebra" and "zebra is his favourite animal". This fact alone reveals that a colour is simply a colour in the eyes of a child. Perhaps we need to be more mindful of what meaning we, as adults, attach to such things and what messages we are projecting onto our children.
What would you do? Protect your child from potential bullying or allow him to wear the shoes anyway? Comment below or join the discussion on the EK Forums.