School Officials React in the Worst Way Possible to Bullied My Little Pony Fan

Update 3/21/14: Buncombe County Schools says Grayson Bruce can bring his book bag back to Candler Elementary School. You can read the full release here.

Adults of the world, we need to talk.

I know you’re doing your best out there. I’m not sure who decided that grown ups should be in charge of everything, but I do know that we’re all just trying not to burn this thing to the ground. But really, we need to stop shoving our gender issues onto kids. It’s not doing anyone any favors. I bring this up because, apparently, boys can’t like pretty pink and purple ponies without expecting a little bullying.

Grayson Bruce is just a 9-year-old boy who likes the My Little Pony cartoon, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” Like a lot of kids that age, he wanted to express that on his school supplies, in this case a bag. (Rainbow Dash? This boy has taste.)

The result? Intensified bullying for liking what is widely perceived as a girl’s show. If you’re unfamiliar with My Little Pony, it’s a sweet little cartoon that extols the virtues of friendship. That’s it. It is, on the surface, stereotypically girly, but the characters run the gamut. It wouldn’t be hard to find a character to relate to.

So instead of friendship, Grayson gets bullying. The irony abounds.

Now, you’d think that once this has been brought to the school administration’s attention the situation would be dealt with. It was, but not in the way you might think. Instead of punishing the bullies, Grayson was told that he couldn’t bring his bag to school anymore. Why? Because it’s a “trigger for bullying.”

Congratulations, Buncombe County, N.C., school officials! You are the worst.

Grayson’s mom, Noreen was exactly right when she said: “[S]aying a lunchbox is a trigger for bullying, is like saying a short skirt is a trigger for rape. It’s flawed logic, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Bingo. This is gender policing, just in a slightly different form. Grayson isn’t doing anything to deserve bullying. (I’d be hard pressed to find a kid that deserved bullying, really.) The bullies have complete control over their behavior. There is nothing about Grayson’s My Little Pony bag that is provoking anyone to do anything. The bullies have been taught that it’s OK to treat people who don’t conform to a very narrow definition of what it means to be a boy horribly, and now school officials are reinforcing that lesson.

It’s not like this is the first time something like this has happened. In February, an 11-year-old boy attempted suicide because of My Little Pony-related bullying. And it’s not like My Little Pony fanboys don’t exist. They are an actual, legitimate phenomenon. My Little Pony even has crossover appeal with the Doctor Who-inspired Dr. Hooves.

The school issued a statement, saying that they were just trying to mitigate the problem and are continuing to address the issue. You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical. A serious response would be to punish the bullies, not the bullied. A serious response would be to immediately address the actual cause of the bullying, which, in case you haven’t been paying attention, is not the bag.

Whether they meant to or not, the adults in these kids lives are projecting their gender issues onto the kids. They are telling them that it’s OK to treat people with less respect if they don’t conform to a narrow idea of “normal.” The bullies are clearly a little jerky, but they are a symptom of a larger problem. It would be great if we could be more mindful of how we infect young minds with this way of thinking and do what we can to mitigate it.

You can show your support for Grayson and his amazing taste in cartoons on his Facebook page.

Photo Credit: rjrgmc28 via Flickr


Fiona Fahey
Fiona Fahey3 years ago

If it was to me, the bullies would be forced to watch My Little Pony.

Kevin Bingham
Kev B3 years ago

Thank you for standing for gender equality for children, not just women's rights. Maybe someday you will be able to stand for gender equality across its spectrum, for all ages.
Gender is the greatest force dividing humanity. It is perverse in the extreme that for some reason we use this construct as the first thing we identify a human as, and condition them into their roles by from birth to death. We NEED to fight gender, to stop referring to each other by gender, thinking of each other as a gender first - it is offensive by race and should be by gender.
It is time we stopped fighting divided and toook action to unite

Norma Villarreal
Norma Villarreal3 years ago

The administration missed the mark on this one and needs to be accountable for the results of bullying with all parties.

Nina S.
Nina S3 years ago


Debbie Wood
Debbie Wood3 years ago

Sadly, this is nothing new. When I worked at a school in the 80's I often saw bullies get away with it and their victims being blamed. It was one of several reasons I quit that job after 10 years. You can only stand so much of watching children being abused and feeling helpless to change anything. Sometimes the abuser is the parent, sometimes the school system. The zero tollerance nonsense was just starting then too. My granddaughter has had to deal with bullying and not getting help from the school. They wonder why children crack under the system as it is run now.

Lauren C.
Lauren K3 years ago

Holy balls. I read the 'trigger for bullying' bit and I just don't even know. Sends an excellent message to the bullies eh?

P.S My Little Pony is awesome and a guy can like the show if he so pleases.

Susan T.
Susan T3 years ago

Same thing has happened to kids in California for wearing patriotic t shirts in cinco de mayo.......bullies come in all shapes, colors and sexual orientation...gang members are bullies, teen age drug dealers are bullies, some bosses are bullies....
This young boy should not have been made to stop taking his book bag to school, just like the kids in cali should not have been made to turn their shirts inside out or go home....same reason for each case.
School administrators need to figure out a way to deal with this issue.

Lynn C.
Lynn C3 years ago

Sooo I guess they're teaching bigotry - NC - of course - join the crowd.

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert3 years ago

The ignorance of children and adults who whose bullying was never checked as a child.

Karen R.
Karen Ryan3 years ago

I guess when the people at this school were told bullying is not supposed to be tolerated they took it to mean bullying is supposed to be encouraged.