Child's gender-bending Halloween costume sparks debate

Nov 5, 2010 at 8:06 p.m. ET

Mommyblogger Sarah faced harsh criticism from fellow mothers for allowing her son to wear a traditionally female costume for Halloween. Her blog on the issue ignited a debate on gender roles in society. What side are you on?

Child's gender-bending Halloween costume sparks debate

It all started a few weeks ago over a Halloween costume discussion.

A Kansas City-area mother asked her son what he wanted to be for Halloween. Her son, affectionately called Boo, said he wanted to be Daphne from Scooby Doo. He's been a huge fan most of his life and was the crime-fighting cartoon for Halloween a couple of years ago.

5 year-old boy Daphne

At first the mother, only identified as Sarah, wasn't sure about his decision. Her hesitation wasn't so much of his choice of costume, but that he might change his mind. He didn't, so she made the purchase.

Fast forward to a few days before Halloween. Sarah's son started to complain about his costume because he was afraid people would make fun of him for dressing like a girl. She blew it off, she said, because she didn't think anyone would laugh at a kid in a costume.

She was wrong.

She took him to school for his Halloween party dressed in his Daphne costume and he didn't want to get out of the car, worried that people would make fun of him. She again reassured her son that no one would make fun of him and they went inside.

Halloween horrors

It wasn't the kids that had the problem with Boo's costume; it was their mothers. Various mothers made comments to Sarah, ranging from questions about the choice of costume to condemning the mother for allowing to dress in a girl's costume because it might "turn him gay."

Sarah was angry -- very angry. So she vented on her personal blog, Nerdy Apple Bottom.

"If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to 'make' him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off."

"If my daughter had dressed as Batman, no one would have thought twice about it. No one."

The blog touched a nerve with parents around the country, on both sides of the issue. The post has attracted almost 300 comments and media across the country.

Parenting debate

This subject has struck a nerve, likely due to increasing problem of bullying and cyberbullying across the country. A recent study showed that 23 percent of elementary school-aged children have been bullied at some point and an astounding 77 percent have been bullied at some point during their lives.

It also shows that bullies are likely learning discrimination from their parents, judging the mothers' reactions to Boo's Daphne Costume.

No matter what you believe, you can't argue that we live in a diverse society with people of all races, sexual orientations and personalities. Tolerance has to start somewhere, and it should start at home.

Or, as Sarah said so gracefully on her blog:

"And all I hope for my kids, and yours, and those of Moms ABC, are that they are happy. If a set of purple sparkly tights and a velvety dress is what makes my baby happy one night, then so be it. If he wants to carry a purse, or marry a man, or paint fingernails with his best girlfriend, then ok. My job as his mother is not to stifle that man that he will be, but to help him along his way. Mine is not to dictate what is 'normal' and what is not, but to help him become a good person."



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