9-year-old Grayson Bruce was banned from carrying his My Little Pony bag to school. The issue for the Buncombe County, North Carolina school is not the fact that the bag is morally offensive, or racist, or considered threatening in any way. The bag is not threatening in any way to anyone but the bag’s owner, Grayson. The ban from the elementary school in regards to this particular pack stems from the fact that it has incited a high degree of bullying toward the 9-year-old.
Reports indicate that not only have other children been picking on him and bullying him over his carryall, but that one of the children went so far as to tell Grayson to “go home and kill yourself.” Grayson’s mother, Noreen Bruce, went to the school counselor for help. According to Bruce, the school counselor suggested that Grayson either leave the bag at home or simply hide it. In fact, the school called and asked Grayson to not bring the pack to school anymore because it was a trigger for bullying. Noreen Bruce’s response is that the school’s logic is flawed. She compares the request to not bring the bag because it triggers bullying as to telling a woman not to wear a short skirt because it triggers rape.
Grayson says that he has been the brunt of a number of incidents such as teasing, pushing, shoving, and even punching. While he likes the show My Little Pony and picked a carrier that has one of the characters displayed, he understands why some children call him names, but does not understand the bans the school has placed upon him. His mother is an advocate of the show because it promotes friendship and does not include violence or bad words. The Rainbow Dash bag that Grayson chose is a fuzzy, blue bag.
At this time, Grayson has been taken out of school and is being home-schooled by his mother. She is also attempting to place him in a new school beginning next year in the fall. Meanwhile, she has an appointment with the Buncombe County School superintendent this Thursday to further discuss the issue. She indicates that she wants the children who were doing the bullying punished, not the child who was the one being bullied. Bruce has three more children who will be growing up and attending the same school district and would like to have better policies in place prior to their enrollment.
While Bruce is attempting to deal with Buncombe County Schools, the effects of the bullying on her 9-year-old son, and the homeschooling that is taking place for Grayson to keep up with his class, she has also launched a Facebook campaign. The campaign, she says, is designed to offer a space for people all over to offer messages of support, not only to Grayson, but to all children who may be victims of bullying. A user on Facebook wrote about how proud he was of Grayson for being comfortable with himself. The user further went on to provide a message congratulating Noreen Bruce for supporting her son and seeking justice.
Other Facebook friends have shown support by posting photos of themselves with their own My Little Pony paraphernalia and toys. Many of those using the support page on Facebook believe, like the Bruce family, that the bans the school has placed on the My Little Pony bag is not addressing the real issue. Many believe that the real issue at stake is that children have been allowed to get away with bullying while the child being victimized has been punished.
By Dee Mueller