A mother wrote an open letter on Facebook after she said her 3-year-old son, Harry, was pointed out and laughed at for wearing "girl socks" at nursery.
Shona Campbell, 32, from Irvine, Scotland, was picking Harry up from nursery when she says she noticed another child and his mother laughing at him for wearing socks with a heart print on them.
Campbell told BuzzFeed News she was "frustrated a mother wouldn't correct their child", and "shocked that in this day and age, gender stereotyping still happens".
"I for one know children are the most curious little people, my eldest is 13," she added. "But I would have thought it would be the done thing now for a parent to say to their child it's not nice to point, or those socks could be for boys or girls."
Shona Campbell and 3-year-old Harry.
Campbell said she didn't say anything to the mother at the time because she is "not one for confrontation and didn't want to cause a scene in a nursery full of infants".
"By the time I had taken Harry home the words I wanted to say were so much clearer, so I took to Facebook to share my feelings," she explained.
The letter read:
To the mother at nursery picking up your child,
You may have thought I didn't hear you but let me assure you I did!! When your child pointed out my SON had love hearts on his socks, and mocked them for being GIRLS socks you absolutely tore apart my faith in this world, because you agreed and laughed along with your child.
My son is 3 years old, he loves love hearts, he loves the colour pink, he loves to play with dolls and prams. But what he loves more than anything, is having the independence to make his own choices. He chose these socks in the shop, and he chose to wear them today.
Why should we teach our children that certain things are for girls/boys?? If my son wants to wear a dress, he can!! If he wants to wear a big fluffy hat, he can!! And if he wants to wear socks with love hearts, HE CAN!! I am bringing up my son to be whoever he wants to be and I do not appreciate people like you poking fun at him, telling him he's wrong for what he wears or dictating what he should or shouldn't do/wear.
This is the perfect age to allow our children to make their own decisions and let them figure out who THEY want to be, not who society says they should be! This is MY SON. And I love him. Love heart socks and all!! ❤ Feel free to share. I'd really like to make sure she, and anyone else that thinks it's ok to specify gender in clothes/toys etc, see's this and hopes narrow mindedness is replaced with open mindedness. 😊❤❤❤
Campbell told BuzzFeed News the response to her Facebook post has been "incredible" and "amazingly overwhelming".
The open letter has now been shared over 90,000 times and she's received "positive messages" of support from hundreds of parents around the world.
While the response has mostly been positive, Campbell also got messages from people who have disagreed with her.
"One man told me I shouldn't be a parent, and I quote: 'You are the pinnacle of bad parenting in the modern world,'" she said. "He also said Harry should be taken off me if I'm not prepared to teach him what is 'normal' for a boy."
Despite this, Campbell hopes her post will "encourage any parent to allow their little ones to have an imagination".
"If your son plays with a doll and pram, little kitchen set or toy Hoover, does that make him any less of a boy? Or if your daughter wants to play football, baseball, basketball, or soldiers? Does that make her any less of a girl?" she said.
"I believe that actually we should be learning from them, who they want to be, and guide them along their way."