5-Year-Old Boy’s Daphne Costume Throws Gender-Conscious Parents Into Shiloh Panic


Boo, a 5-year-old boy in preschool, likes Scooby Doo in general and Daphne in particular and decided he wanted to be Daphne for Halloween. So he was. Then he showed up to preschool and adults made fun of them because seriously the world is messed up sometimes.

Earlier this week, his mother posted the following on her blog:

“We walk down the hall to where his classroom is.

And that’s where things went wrong. Two mothers went wide-eyed and made faces as if they smelled decomp. And I realize that my son is seeing the same thing I am. So I say, “Doesn’t he look great?” And Mom A says in disgust, “Did he ask to be that?!” I say that he sure did as Halloween is the time of year that you can be whatever it is that you want to be. They continue with their nosy, probing questions as to how that was an option and didn’t I try to talk him out of it. Mom B mostly just stood there in shock  and dismay.

And then Mom C approaches. She had been in the main room, saw us walk in, and followed us down the hall to let me know her thoughts. And they were that I should never have ‘allowed’ this and thank God it wasn’t next year when he was in Kindergarten since I would have had to put my foot down and ‘forbidden’ it. To which I calmly replied that I would do no such thing and couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. She continued on and on about how mean children could be and how he would be ridiculed.

My response to that: The only people that seem to have a problem with it is their mothers.”

I highly recommend the rest of the post, because it is awesome. And, as she points out, the point is not whether or not her kid is gay, or transgender, or not, the point is that people are dying all the time as a result of bullying and when it’s directed at a five-year-old in a Halloween costume by adult women it’s strikingly clear that any solution needs to be all-inclusive (note also that people his age weren’t bothered; only their parents).

Also, THIS:

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.

This incident is an example of a little something we like to call Shiloh Panic. The Editors would like to take a moment to define “Shiloh Panic,” named after Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, the royal offspring of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who are contributing to the moral degradation of this country by allowing their daughter to wear whatever she wants, which is alarming. Apparently.



Shiloh Panic is a larger commentary on societal moral panic

Shiloh Panic is every moral panic

Shiloh Panic is our society’s endless fixation with the regulation and suppression of sexuality and identity and originality. it’s the screaming burning blazing honest self, slamming up against the cold steel of a cruel, aged, bitter, stifled world.


Got it? Good.


The Ottawa-Carleton district school board will be distributing a survey to all students that will ask about students’ home life, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation. Students from junior kindergarten to Grade 6 will have the survey completed by their parents, while Grades 7 to 12 will fill it out on their own. According to the board, the results will help with decision-making on programs and services. According to parents, the board doesn’t need to know about whether or not mom has a job and it’s annoying they have to write the school specifically to remove their child from the program. The survey itself features questions on family structure (for younger grades), including non-traditional family structure, and sexual orientation (for older grades), featuring eight potential answers in addition to a “prefer not to disclose” option. According to Lloyd McKell, the senior advisor to the director of education in Toronto, students are far more open to the survey than their parents: “They take these questions much more in stride than many of the adults in the community.”

A similar survey was conducted in Toronto several years ago and was completed by the majority of students and parents. (@advocate)


Except for Rick Mercer, who said that it would get better way back in 2007, there have not been a lot of Canadians hoping on the video bandwagon. Until now. The first seven minutes or so are pretty depressing but then things get better, appropriately. (@joemygod)

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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. Ha, wow, I saw the story of the 5-year-old boy last night while I was on WordPress and actually and posted it on my Facebook. I had a few friends repost it too. I think she’s an amazing mom.

  2. I am so proud of that mom! My 3 y.o. son LOVES anything dress-up, be it a cape, a skirt, an apron, a firefighter costume, or a hat. The other day was “crazy hair day” at his preschool and he said he wanted “girl hair”. I asked him to explain, and basically, he wanted pigtails. I couldn’t do that (he has short hair), but I used some gel to make little pointy parts on each side of his head. And then he asked for spikes on top too…LOL. He loved his hair and went to school happy. That is what matters most.
    Closer to this specific story, I often take my son to a local play place that has costumes in addition to toys. He tried on a sparkly belly shirt, and within a minute some mom was saying “better not let daddy see that!” I wish I had responded, but we were running past her and I didn’t have a chance to kick her in the shins. ;)

  3. My daughter wanted to be a vampire this Halloween. She didn’t want the “girl” vampire costume. She wanted the “boy” one and a goatee. It goes without saying that she looked great in her beard, right? I know that there are some people that judged but what is perfectly clear to me is that it is a million times more acceptable to others for my little girl to dress like a bearded vampire than it is for a little boy to dress like Daphne. And people wondering why kids bully…

    • As I understand it, that’s just a handle the author uses for her kid because it’s the internet. In a couple other posts I browsed, she calls her husband The Detective (he’s a police officer) and her other kid Squirt.

  4. You know it’s bad when it’s the mom’s who are making comments and not the kids. If parents just raised their kids to be less judgmental and more open minded, no one would grow up to be like those parents.

    I think the line that says it best is “Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.”

  5. The story about Boo made me sad about judgmental people but so so happy to hear an encouraging mom!! The ninja line was perfect

  6. Although I am saddened by the mother’s seeming anti-ninja prejudices, I think she is redeemed by her otherwise kick-ass words and actions.

    Is it sort of worrying that the conformist attitudes are becoming so stifling that we need to celebrate stories like this, which are ultimately just about a mum being a good mum?

    Anyway, for the past hour I have had stuck in my head what would be the eponymous debut single of the yet-to-be-formed post-punk riot-grrrl-revival meta-protest group Shiloh Panic, which I am fairly certain I remember bcw saying she was going to form in the last Shiloh Panic post.

    It is very noisy.

  7. I wouldn’t be surprised if Boo’s classmates did react negatively, I mean with mothers like those, they definitely would just fall so near the trees. Sad. Sad. :(

  8. omg. let him do his thing… She is prob his favorite character or maybe he wants to make sweet cartoon love to her. Now who is gay. I wanted to be Pocahontas cause she is FINE!

    • My sister dressed as velma this year, she got her inspiration from her current profile picture on fb, she’s got dark hair and glasses and she’s been usin different cartoon characters for a few weeks now, it started with gretchin from recess, then daria, then meg from family guy and currently velma… I think everyone should use cartoon dooplegangers .. Its the best ..

      Also, is this a thing, we all become what we dress up as for Halloween, cos if it is I’m scared, I was a male rugby player, complete with socks for muscles and a black eye.. This isn’t good, I’m not a fan of pain, tho I do love rugby, but from th stands! Lol I think this would make an awesome buffy episode, or has that happened already? AND if it is def a thing I’m concerned for th guy I seen dressed as a used tampon… :/

  9. His costume is way better than mine was :( I’ll post an actual opinion when I’m over the jealousy.

  10. Ottawa-Carleton! That’s me! I feel like the crazy conservative majority of this city is not going to like their children being asked questions about their family sitch/orientation. We may be a big city in numbers but not in attitudes. At least, that’s what I’ve experienced in the 8 or so months I’ve lived here.

  11. When I worked at Build A Bear Workshop I had a party of 10 5 year olds. All of them had their moms with them. When we went to pick bears, one of the little boys picked a pink bear. None of the other kids even noticed. The moms started laughing at the little boy and I could tell his mom was embarrassed. I was disappointed that the parents were bullying this little kid, but I think even worse that the little boy’s mom didn’t even stand up for her son. She just stayed quiet while her son was picked on. I’m glad to see that Boo’s mom stands up for him and will love him no matter what.

    • If someone poked fun at my kids like that, I’d destroy them. My boy wants a pink bear, HE GETS THE BEST DAMN PINK BEAR.

  12. I love this story. And all’s I have to say about the paranoia is this:

    I am six years older than my brother. Thus, for most of his early childhood, he coveted my hot pink pajamas and fairy princess costumes – in fact, sometimes, we still share clothes. Interestingly, I, the owner of the pink and the fairy princess costumes, am the gay sibling. My brother is straight and a total lady’s man.

  13. I love this mother, so much. I would be a different person with a mother like that.

    I don’t actually know if I would be a better person, but I would certainly be different. May she never stop being in this for her kid.

  14. my brother and i used to dress up as each other. i turned out to be gay, he didn’t.


    • Dressing up as each other = so cute!

      I really hope that by the time I have children I develop this amazing mum’s ability to come up with the perfect comeback at the necessary time (not 3 days later, which is my current habit).

  15. Ottawa-Carleto has no business asking kids or parents about shit like religion, sexual orientation, etc. If a stranger came up to you and started asking all this shit, would you answer? Hopefully people will refuse to comply with this insanity.

      • These types of surveys are anonymous. No different than filling out a census. Better data = better services. I don’t see the problem with it.

        • The problem is an unnecessary breach of privacy. Learning to read, write, and do basic math do not require expensive services that require officials to know your personal or family life. As evidence of that, I would point to the many generations of Canadians who learned this stuff without answering invasive question about their home life. 2 + 2 = 4 whether you are a gay, Amish, third grade conjoined twin or a 92-year-old Mexican Jew raising her 16-year-old great-granddaughter.

  16. Also, those bitches at the boy’s school? FUCK THEM. It’s times like these I’m so fucking glad I look gay. I’m here. Don’t like it? Fuck off. Fuck them.

  17. First of all, he is adorable. Second of all, this reminds of this one time when I was little. One Christmas, I got an American Girl doll, and my (male) cousin, who was about 2 at the time, wanted to play with it. His dad flipped. I was very confused. Also, I didn’t have an amazing adult to a) tell him to get over it and b) explain to me why he was an idiot. This mom gets props for not flipping out on those mothers. If I saw adults bullying my goddaughter, there would most likely be cursing involved. Although, I’m aware that would probably wouldn’t help anything.

  18. woah, woah, woah guys, the life and style magazine says Vienna tricked Jake, WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?!

  19. What irks me about this story is Boo’s right to privacy.

    What his mother says in her blog is spot on – no one should care if Boo is gay (or not) and no one should tell him what he can and cannot wear.

    But, I’m not comfortable that she has made the decision to have her son’s photo plastered all over the internet. I somewhat question whether her foremost concern is to make a point about gender/bullying, or to garner publicity.

  20. What is shitty about the internet is the right to privacy/need for it issue. If people were generally less shitty, we could all look at cute pictures of kids and say, “aw,” without worrying that utter shitheads exist. As far as publicity is concerned, the more publicity decent moms get the better.

    A side note. Thank God my mother let me dress just like a little boy for the entirety of my youth, because otherwise I would have gotten mud on/ripped far more adorable little dresses. I also suspect that when I came out to my parents a longstanding bet was settled. But my little male friends borrowed/wore the girl clothes I did have and we all wore rainbow wigs and pirate outfits. I’m the only gay one and no one is a pirate so there.

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