Editor's Note: 12/19 -- The boy's older sister, whose January 2012 Tumblr post and photograph of her 5-year-old brother wearing pink shoes to school started the blogospheric conversation, contacted The Huffington Post to say that the content was posted to Facebook without her consent. The Facebook page Have A Gay Day has taken down the post, telling HuffPost, "We removed it because we did not wish to share something that wasn't accurate." At the request of the sister, the photo and references to the boy's name have been removed from this article, which has been edited throughout.
A viral photograph of a young boy who opted to wear pink shoes on his first day of preschool has sparked intense debate in the blogosphere.
The photo of the 5-year-old boy and Tumblr blog posted to the "Have a Gay Day" page read:
Yesterday my mom posted a picture on Facebook of my 5-year-old brother ... wearing a pair of shoes he picked out for his first day of preschool. She explained to him in the store that they were really made for girls. [The boy] then told her that he didn’t care and that 'ninjas can wear pink shoes too.'
However, my mom received about 20 comments on the photo from various family members saying how 'wrong' it is and how 'things like this will affect him socially' and, put most eloquently by my great aunt, 'that sh*t will turn him gay.'
The post went on to explain that the boy liked the shoes because they were "made out of zebras," his favorite animal: "What does it say about society when a group of adults could stand to take a lesson in humanity from a class of preschoolers?"
The boy's sister later commented on the Facebook post, saying: "The shoes belonged to my cousin (who is a girl), and [the boy] wore them to school one day. The kids didn't tease him or anything, which I thought was great and really showed how children are taught about gender roles instead of simply knowing them. My family really never made any negative comments, though."
The photograph had drawn over 120,000 likes and had been shared over 19,000 times before it was taken down.
Meanwhile, the photograph was the subject of a heated blog posted on The Stir. In the piece, blogger Mary Fischer disagreed with the boy's mother, saying she wouldn't let her own son wear pink shoes to school because it would "subject him to being bullied or treated unfairly all because most people associate pink with girls and blue with boys."
Yes, I get the whole 'we should let kids be free to express themselves' thing, and I'll be the first to say 'more power' to this mom for taking a chance and letting Sam go off to preschool in his pink zebra print flats.
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 then adds, "Bullying is bad enough as it is without handing tormentors their material on a silver platter."
You can read Fischer's full blog post here.