NC Boy’s ’My Little Pony’ Backpack Sparks Bullying Controversy
A 9-year-old boy from North Carolina is making national headlines Tuesday after officials from his school allegedly told him that he shouldn't wear a "My Little Pony" backpack because it is a "trigger for bullying," Ashville, North Carolina's ABC-affiliate station WLOS-TV reports.
According to Noreen Bruce, officials from Buncombe County Schools told her son Grayson Bruce that he can't wear his "My Little Pony" backpack to school because it sparks bullying against him. Grayson says he has been the target of verbal and physical assault from other students who called his backpack "girly."
"They're taking it a little too far with you know, punching me and pushing me down - calling me horrible names. Stuff that really shouldn't happen," Grayson told the local news station.
Noreen Bruce says that officials said her son needs to leave the backpack at home to "immediately address a situation that had created a disruption in the classroom."
When talking to WLOS-TV, Noreen Bruce defended the show and franchise "My Little Pony," saying the program is "promoting friendship, there's no bad words, there's no violence, it's hard to find that, even in cartoons now."
She also took issue with the school officials alleged comments about her son's backpack.
"Saying 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," she said.
Noreen Bruce said she wants the students who bullied her son to be punished.
Officials from Buncombe County School said in a statement: "an initial step was taken to immediately address a situation that had created a disruption in the classroom. Buncombe County Schools takes bullying very seriously, and we will continue to take steps to resolve this issue."
Grayson is currently carrying a different bag to school.
It wasn't long before social media users took notice of Grayson's situation. A Change.org petition was created Monday, urging school officials to allow the student to bring the "My Little Pony" backpack to school and to "crack down on the bullying" at the school.
The petition reads:
"We need your help. Students are bullied everyday in this state. Children are mistreated and are bullied of unjustifiable reasons. This young boy has been bullied for having a Rainbow Dash backpack. Rather than stop the bullying, they've made it so he can't bring it back, and allowed the bullies to get off scot-free. We can't let this happen."
As of this writing, the petition has 5,210 supporters and needs 2,290 more.
In addition to the e-petition, a Facebook page has been set up, apparently by Grayson's parents, called "Support For Grayson." The page currently has more than 31,000 likes.
Media outlets around the country, including the Huffington Post, People magazine, Entertainment Weekly, NBC and others, have picked up Grayson's story. Even the developer of "My Little Pony," Lauren Faust, tweeted "#standwithgrayson 'nuff said."
"My Little Pony" is a franchise developed by Hasbro marketed towards girls in the 1980s but was revamped into a popular TV show in 2010. That show sparked a phenomenon called "bronies," or adult men or boys who are obsessed with the franchise.