School Claims My Little Pony Will Get This Kid’s Ass Kicked

716vhClNZrL._SL1500_A nine-year-old boy has been forbidden by his school from carrying his My Little Pony backpack. The school claims carrying the pack makes him a target for bullies. Sure, that makes sense. Don’t punish the students who are doing the bullying – instead forbid the victim from bringing the backpack that’s “causing kids to be bullies.” Well, this is a new low; victim-blaming a nine-year-old My Little Pony lover.

The boy says he’s been shoved around by kids who think My Little Pony is for girls: “They’re taking it a little too far, with punching me, pushing me down, calling me horrible names, stuff that really shouldn’t happen,” Grayson Bruce said. He still wants to carry the pack. I think he’s an amazingly smart little boy who obviously realizes his bullies are in the wrong. If I was his mom, I would be really proud of him – and totally support him carrying the bag. As far as I’m concerned, this choice is between the boy and his parents – not the school.

His mom, Doreen Bruce, said that last week the school asked him to leave the bag at home because it had become a distraction and was a “trigger for bullying.” Her reaction?

“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.

It’s a strange parallel – but I agree. This backpack isn’t causing him to be bullied; kids who are able to push other kids around without being punished is. Take the focus off this bag and put it where it belongs – on teaching kids that it’s not okay to push kids around who have interests you don’t agree with.

I think the mom is right – if my child felt strongly about carrying the backpack after the kind of backlash he’d already received, I would support him. In my opinion, he’s a pretty impressive nine-year-old.

(photo: Amazon)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • Guest

      I would say Mom had the exact right reaction.

    • Megan Zander

      A- what the school is doing is illegal. The Supreme Court decided this back in the 70s, you can’t stifle free expression with clothing unless the item is so inflammatory that the it prevents the other kids from learning or is dangerous ( ie shirts with swearing or chain wallets) lawyer rant off.
      B- adults are supposed to be safe for kids, people they can trust to help them when they are being hurt or harassed. I feel so badly that this kid had to learn at such a young age that adults can suck. Grrrr.

      • CW

        Schools are permitted to have a dress code that bans shirts with writing or whatever. They just have to implement the dress code in a fair manner.

      • keelhaulrose

        If the other children are allowed to carry whatever backpack they wish it’s hardly fair.
        I’ve heard of some schools requiring all students carry the same clear backpack. While I find it an overreaction that’s within their rights and hardly worth a fight. But this situation is unfair and empowering to bullies (the school is justifying their behavior).

      • JLH1986

        I’m betting that next year they’ll do the clear bag thing. Or mesh, which is what my high school went to. Or only colored no writing no decorations etc.

      • pixie

        Where do you even get a mesh backpack? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.

      • 1Hell

        I had one in middle school. That was when we were required to carry clear/mesh bags. Apparently 11-14 year olds were more likely to bring guns/drugs/other contraband to school than 14-18 year olds. We also had a stricter dress code than high schoolers. And the two schools were next to each other and part of the same school system.

      • pixie

        Huh. I guess because of the area I went to school in (in a suburban Canadian town) nobody really thought about that. We did have a slightly stricter dress code and anything that could be considered “gang colours”, like bandannas, weren’t allowed, but the clear/mesh backpack lessening the chance of bringing contraband to school was a non-issue for us.

        That’s not to say school violence isn’t an issue up here, it’s just not as big of an issue, I don’t think.

      • 1Hell

        Shouldn’t have been for us either. I grew up in a rural town. The nearest place to buy clothes was a 45 minute drive. We had no issues with school violence but the admin wanted middle school to look like a Big Deal to kids and parents. I guess they were afraid stupid 12 year old boys would bring a hunting rifle to school to show their friends or someone would bring their medicine instead of checking it with the nurse.

      • TheGirlWhoWoreGlasses

        Around here, the HS has a MUCH more lax dress code – my theory is that it is based at least in part on a feeling that they will do anything to get the kids to come to school – including letting them wear slippers and other clearly bed clothes.

      • SarahJesness

        Middle schoolers are pretty horrible, yeah. Public middle school where I grew up (and where I would’ve gone if we didn’t move to another town) had that backpack policy because of violence/drugs, but as far as I’m aware the high schools didn’t have a similar rule.

      • JLH1986

        We have a dicks sporting goods that sells them!

      • Caroline Fifi

        The school should make it mandatory that all children carry My Little Pony backpacks! Then the bullies have to carry them too. That would teach the bullies!

      • Ina Pickle

        The other children’s bags aren’t causing a huge disruption in the school. I would lay odds that next year the school will ban anything except solidly colored backpacks.

      • JLH1986

        That’s only if the dress code was implemented at the beginning of the year. To determine that ONE child cannot carry a bag with decoration is NOT legal. As I am sure that their are little girls carrying “My Little Pony” book bags as well.

      • CW

        The school could implement a dress code mid-year after an incident, but they would have to implement it in a way such that all kids followed the same rule. So not just banning a specific character backpack for one child but ALL character backpacks for ALL students. My high school went to a “no t-shirts with writing” rule after those moronic “Big Johnson” shirts came into style.

      • JLH1986

        Ours too. The following year. Because what the hell was with those shirts?

      • SarahJesness

        I don’t think the school banned him from wearing the backpack, they just suggested that he not bring it. So no unconstitutional, just fucked up. Now, if they banned him from bringing the backpack but let other kids bring similar ones, free speech could come into play.

      • Mary

        I remember the whole ban on you can’t wear chain wallets. I was wondering what’s wrong with preventing your wallet getting stolen. Then someone told me it was gang affiliation. I laughed

    • Mystik Spiral

      Mom’s analogy is not a strange parallel at all. In fact, it’s 100% right on; saying that a backpack causes bullying is EXACTLY the same thing as saying revealing clothes cause rape.

      • JLH1986

        Yep. The school said “You bring bullying on yourself by wearing a backpack society deems as feminine.” Which is the same as police officers saying “You brought the attack on yourself by wearing a skirt society deems as too short.”

      • You_Are _Stupid!

        Well, the reality is that in this particular situation the book bag has made him a target and in certain cases a woman’s scantily way of dress could lead to unwanted advances. Saying otherwise is 100% disingenuous. If I display a Nazi flag on my person and walk around im bound to be challenged in several different ways more so negative than others. Now in all three scenarios these people are well within their rights to project their identity through their fashion sense and should not be accosted or otherwise but that’s not the world we live in and the probability goes up when those variables are present. Furthermore, I agree with the overall premise of most of the posters here that the bullies should be dealt with accordingly and he should be allowed to wear his book bag. The school is 100% wrong in their ruling. However, the bag has made him a target and according to even his mother is the causation of his bullying. I’m just saying.

      • unknownbeta

        comparing a small kid wearing a bag targeted for girls to Nazism is silly isn’t it? No one should justify anothers bad behavior. That’s equivalent to saying if women weren’t attractive, they wouldn’t be assaulted.

      • You_Are _Stupid!

        Comprehension is not a strong suite of yours i see. Have a good day.

      • unknownbeta

        nor is it yours apparently. You too have a good day


        The kid who punched him to the ground gets to walk 4 laps but the kid with the backpack has to stop bringing his backpack. That shows the incompetence of the school officials in this situation. The bullies can do as they please and get a slap on the wrist while the victim is victimized even more. I bet if the victim fought back he’d be suspended. Absolutely absurd.

    • Jell

      This is a really appalling reaction on behalf of the school and tantamount to saying “You bring this upon yourself.” Can they honestly believe that by reaffirming a gender-based double standard and blaming the victim that they are working in his best interest– and the interest of the bullying children?
      On the up side, don’t kids seem braver now than ever before?

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        They are braver! Boys never wore pink or anything like that when I was a kid–you’d get your ass kicked.

        And, I have a male student (11) who’s a total Brony…to the point where he gives out My Little Pony cards to classmates–male and female. And I’ve never heard any of the other kids mock him. They just seem to regard him as a free spirit, and even though they’re not all interested, they either play along or just don’t comment. Totally different than anything I ever saw growing up.

      • itpainsme2say

        Aww baby brony that gets respect from his peers

    • CW

      I wouldn’t allow my son to carry one in public, but that should be the PARENTS’ decision to make, not the school’s. Either ban ALL character backpacks (which would be the school’s prerogative to do) for ALL students or allow the little boy to have the MLP one.

    • personal

      I have a friend whose 18-year-old son is completely fascinated with My Little Pony. He doesn’t think it’s at all girly. In fact, the creators have been criticized for sexualizing the ponies.
      Note: The fellow does have very mild Aspergers. Seems completely fine, has friends, does well at school, etc, I do suspect the fascination has something to do with his Aspergers.

      • Natasha B

        ‘Bronies’ are totally a thing. I don’t get it, but I’m not a teenage boy. I dislike the new my little pony episodes because they do seem sexualized, and extremely vapid.

      • Kheldarson

        Err…it’s not just teenage boys and has nothing to do with them possibly being sexualized.

        Disclosure: My husband’s a brony. Why?

        Because he likes the show. He enjoys the characters as characters, thinks they’re well written, thinks the plot and setting are awesome, and even enjoys how “cute” it all is, even if that’s what makes him keep from watching more than three episodes in a row.

        He’s a participating member of a large community of bronies of all different ages who enjoying writing fiction about the show. And he writes fiction about it that will make you cry.

      • pixie

        I adore the show, though I don’t write fiction. I own a fair amount of merchandise, though.

        I also have several male friends in my age group (early 20s) who are bronies for the exact same reasons as you pointed out.

      • auntiea

        I ask this out of sincere curiosity: how does the brony community feel about equestria girls? Are those part of the pony world or separate? My nieces love those things, but frankly they creep me out, and I can totally understand the sexuality aspect with these versus the regular ponies.

      • Kheldarson

        Like any fandom, you’re going to get a range of responses. So you do have the creepers, and there are some who genuinely liked

      • SarahJesness

        Opinions on Equestria Girls are extremely mixed. A few like it, many think it’s terrible, others think it’s okay.

    • AP

      Mom’s right in theory, but in practice, I have to disagree with her. It’s a good time to teach her son that it’s OK to use discretion with whom we choose to share our interests, because some people are unkind to those who do not agree with our taste. By taking a stand, she and her son stick to their principles- but at the cost of his physical and emotional well-being. Even if she wins and gets the school to stop the bullying, the child will have still been subjected to all the ensuing torture leading up to the point, and the child will still likely be an outcast, since the school can’t force kids to do anything beyond leaving him alone. All in all, I simply don’t think asserting one’s choice in television show is worth the trade off of being a social pariah.

      It’s a good life lesson- while people shouldn’t get the crap beat out of them for liking My Little Pony or be treated badly at work for having the “wrong” political views or religion, it most certainly does happen and discretion helps us navigate complex environments safely.

      • Kelly

        I get where you’re going with this…if I were the mom, I’d try to engage the obviously very bright little boy in a conversation about choices. Like, helping him understand that the other kids are wrong, and also that it is his choice to continue to carry the backpack, or to show some discretion and then stop carrying it. And then support him 100% whatever he decided. I would hate to teach my child they should hide whatever they think people won’t like about them, but I agree that discretion is also a good lesson to learn.

      • Jell

        Respectfully disagree. We learn to cope with bullying by being bullied. There is no magic time in a kid’s life when he is suddenly able to stop being a victim and stand up for himself. If he wants to wear it why shouldn’t his mother support him? He’s obviously smart enough not to let a bunch of bullies ruin it for him.
        The lesson being taught by the school here isn’t “pick your battles”, it’s “Students are entitled to a safe and comfortable learning enviornment so long as they do not deviate from arbitrary social norms.”
        At 9 he’s old enough to understand that wearing the backpack ignities the bullies to pick on him. If he decided on his own not to wear it anymore that’s his choice. It’s not for the school to choose for him.
        Furthermore who are we to decide for a child what is worth being a social pariah over? How can you measure the worth of being free to be the person you are?

      • rrlo

        I disagree. It is never too early to start teaching a child to stand up for their rights as individuals. I don’t understand what discretion has to do with this story. The mom is right to support her son. Pandering to bullies is a not a good life lesson.

      • allisonjayne

        I’m pretty sure the kid has already got the lesson that some people are assholes.

      • Rachel Sea

        What makes you think that if the kid stops wearing the backpack, that the other kids will suddenly like him? Pretending to be someone you aren’t just so other people will like you is a shit lesson, that makes people miserable. Being allowed to like what he likes in spite of the jerks will make him a better adult.

        It is the school’s responsibility to see that he is safe on their grounds. The backpack isn’t what’s putting him in danger, administrators that allow kids to bully with impunity are.

      • SarahJesness

        Yeah, sometimes kids will look for any excuse to bully. If he stops wearing the backpack, they could very well continue to tease him for some other reason. People who picked on me in middle school could always find a reason. Only way to make them stop is to make yourself a bad victim. Start mocking them back. Preferably find something they’d be incredibly self-conscious about. If the bullying is only verbal, another option is, don’t react. At. All. Even when they get right in your face. A lot of them will lose interest if you don’t try to argue or fight back. Sometimes they freak out when you don’t react and it’s hilarious!

        But not all kids are ready or able to do these things. Schools SHOULD step in, if nothing else, to teach the bullies proper social behavior. They won’t be able to get away with that kind of crap in most other social settings. In the adult world, there’s barely a line between “bullying” and “harassment”.

      • Ina Pickle

        After this stunt, I would be surprised if this kid ever has any friends. It may be time for his parents to move to a different city.

      • Katherine Handcock

        But I think there’s a difference between telling a child “some people will be unkind” and saying, “we won’t bother to stop them from doing so” – especially in a school environment. And I don’t think any of us want to be in a world where the solution to bullying because of an interest, a religion, a racial or ethnic background, etc., is just considered something that happens. That’s why we put anti-bullying policies (and, in the adult world, anti-discrimination legal clauses) in place.

        I think Wil Wheaton summed it up beautifully in his ad-hoc speech in response to a mom asking him to tell her newborn daughter why it’s awesome to be a nerd: “It’s not about what you love. It’s about how you love it. That
        could be science, sports, reading, fashion design or building things,
        whatever. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t love what
        you love. The way you love that, and the way that you find other people
        who love it the way you do, is what makes being a nerd awesome.” Preach.

      • SunnyD847

        My friend’s son loves sparkly so-called “girly” stuff. When he picks out these items she always talks to him about how some people may react negatively but let’s him know it’s his choice. So far, he’s always decided having the things he loves is worth putting up with some looks or comments from others. He is an awesome kid and his parents are so supportive.

    • SunnyD847

      This is crap and the rape analogy is right on. Instead of teaching kids not to bully we tell kids to avoid being bullied and instead of teaching young men not to rape we teach women how to avoid rape.

      • DeanaCal

        Yes but isn’t there a way that we can teach kids not to bully, teach young men not to rape, yet still give my daughter advice on how to avoid rape because in the real world some people are just not teachable?

    • SA

      If a teacher wanted to pull aside the parents and mention their concerns over the backpack making him a target for bullying that is fine. But for a school to BAN it is ridiculous. Seems they are too lazy to deal with the bullies or maybe the bullies’ parents are people they don’t want to have to deal with. It is bullies that should be in trouble and loosing privileges, not him. Poor kid.

    • chickadee

      It sounds like the school officials might agree with the bullies about what kind of backpack that boys should carry, because I just don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t side with the boy being bullied. A-holes.

    • Taxes Make Kittens Cry

      Isn’t this analogous to wearing the US Flag on Cinco de Mayo?

      • Alex Lee

        I do not believe it is.

        Grayson Bruce* is only concerned with his backpack. He is not advocating that anyone else become a fan of “My Little Pony”. He is also not advocating that non-fans of “My Little Pony” be emigrated from the country or that a particular ethnic holiday be disrupted.

        In contrast, the individuals wearing the US Flag on Cinco de Mayo did so as an exercise of anti-Mexican solidarity.

        Sure, some elements are similar (freedom of expression and a perceived infringement thereupon) but contextually, I see them as very different circumstances.

        * I’m wondering if the parents are big fans of Batman. This name seems very similar to Dick Grayson (Robin) and Bruce Wayne (Batman). Or, this could just be another fabrication…

      • Taxes Make Kittens Cry

        OK, now look at it from the other point of view.

      • Alex Lee

        The other point of view being:

        “That male child has a backpack with a design on it that I consider inappropriate for male children – I must antagonize him now to convince him that his opinion is wrong.”?

        That other point of view?

        Or maybe:

        “I really need to beat that kid up because if I don’t, my peers may think less of me. I really am insecure and need their social reinforcement.”

        Let me know if I’m off-base here.

    • SmrtGrl86

      How about the parents of bullies tell those little assholes to knock it off?

    • SmrtGrl86

      Oh wait, I forgot, that little boy is gonna catch, then spread the gay with that backpack, better burn it too just to be safe.

    • Kheldarson

      So, on the one hand, I kind of want to agree with the school because there have been incidents involving young bronies that have ended poorly ( ).

      On the other, Mom’s right, although her comparison might be considered a bit inflammatory (which would be the only reason why I probably wouldn’t have used that analogy: it’s spot on, but there’s such a disparity in consequence that she may ignored as being hyperbolic). We can’t blame victims for being victims. It’s not their choice to be victims (except for the folks that seem to set themselves up, like Nice Guys). Even if he stops wearing the backpack, his bullies will find something else to bully him about. That’s the way it works. The school needs to concentrate their attention on correcting the behavior of the bullies, not the victim.

      • Tina

        I feel the same way, I’m a bit torn. We definitely can’t blame victims for being victims and the school needs to focus on the actions of the bullies. I want to say that if it were me I would encourage my child to stand up for himself, be proud and continue wearing the backpack….But I can’t say that if I’m being completely honest. It wouldn’t be an easy choice. As much as I wish reality was different and that all kids could be themselves and wear whatever they want and like without anyone bothering them, if best way to try to ensure your child’s safety and well-being before things get out of hand is to simply have him stop wearing a certain backpack, why wouldn’t you? Especially at a young age like nine, I would probably rather do that than send him to school and know he might be physically and emotionally hurt every day. I don’t think the school is trying to outright side with the bullies, I just think they want to lower the risk overall with something they already have trouble controlling in student interaction.

      • Kheldarson

        Pretty much this, yeah. Don’t want kid hurt, easy option is A…but what if the bullying continues? What are they going to do then? What they should’ve in the first place?

      • Tina

        I don’t know:( I do know it might not turn out to be a perfect solution and the school definitely needs to act on the bullies in addition to that, I’m just looking at it from the position of a parent that would feel pretty helpless and just want to do whatever I could to prevent harm.

      • SA

        The other thing too is I wonder if the boy would be grateful later on in life if his parents encouraged him to start wearing a different backpack to school. It is sad this backpack even had to be an issue.

      • Katherine Handcock

        But Mom isn’t telling him to wear the backpack; it’s the son who, still and yet, wants to wear it. And, understandably, wants the school to do what they are legally required to do: prevent him from being bullied (whether emotionally or physically.)

        My fear about saying “just take off the backpack” is that those bullies now know there are some types of bullying you can get away with, that if we’re bullying someone who could change a shirt or take off a backpack, that’s considered okay. You can’t force the kids to be friends with him, or to accept him as he is. But you can tell them, “We have a standard of behaviour here and it applies to everyone.”

      • Williwaw

        Also, I can guarantee that the kid will still be bullied after he stops carrying the backpack, because (a) kids remember, and (b) kids will always find a way to be cruel. When I was 11, my mom bought me Miss Piggy running shoes because they were on sale (we didn’t have much money). I hated them, and used a black marker to scribble all over the Miss Piggy images to hide them, but everyone knew, and I was teased mercilessly (once by the entire class, at lunchtime – they ended up pushing my desk over and hiding my shoes). The teacher asked why I didn’t have gym shoes, so I had to tell her that student X had taken them (at least, I thought I had to tell her – now I would never tell, knowing the consequences). I eventually got the shoes back, student X was suspended, and everyone hated and bullied me even more.

        Anyway, my story is different than this My Little Pony story, obviously, because that kid wants to keep wearing it, and has the strength to stand up for himself, knowing the consequences. They should let him wear it, for all the reasons other posters have already given, and because I can say from experience that if the other kids want to bully him – IT WILL NEVER END. It doesn’t matter if he no longer wears the pack. I eventually threw those fucking Miss Piggy shoes in the trash, but it didn’t help me, and I wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the bullies. I just hid in a wooded part of our playground with a book most recesses and lunch hours. If this kid wants to stand up to the bullies, his parents and teachers should support him.

      • Benwhoski

        A big part of the problem with this is where do you draw the line? He’s being bullied, essentially, for not conforming to a specific gender role. The message is “Don’t want to be bullied? Don’t be so different.” and it doesn’t really even work that way.

        My childhood experiences with bullies tells me that once they pick a target, there are very few things the target can do to change that. If anything, changing to try to fit in better just intensified the ridicule. Once bullies have picked a target, there are very few things one can do to make them change their minds (and despite the common claims that physically fighting back will make them think twice, what it actually taught them to do in my experience was bring more bullies with them next time). Even if he stops wearing the backpack, they WILL find something else to bully him about.

        No matter how much all of the kids conform, there will still be a social hierarchy, and some will still be at the bottom of it. The issue is what kind of behavior toward those at the bottom is tolerated. If the worst the high ranks do to the low ranks is ignore or exclude them from things, that’s obnoxious but it would be unreasonable to expect everyone to always be _pleasant_ with everyone else everywhere. However, if what they do to the lower ranks is physically assault or actively harass them, that’s damaging and dangerous (and when it comes from adults, is _criminal_ behavior).

    • Katherine Handcock

      Shame on the school, and congratulations for this kid and his mom for standing up to this silly decision. I hope that they get the support they deserve.

    • SarahJesness

      Mom’s analogy is a good parallel. Rather than try to correct the behavior of the perpetrators, the school is telling the victim of the bullying to change his behavior, when he’s doing nothing wrong or obnoxious, to stop said bullying. When the school does stuff like this, they’re validating the bully’s actions. They’re telling kids that it’s okay to bully anyone who is weird or whatever.

      On a side note, I’m totally jealous of that kid’s backpack.

    • Inkyhooves

      This makes me angry, I want to know what school this is so we can bully the principal. I’m a 6ft, 200 lbs, truck driving, flank-kicking brony (look it up) and I went through alot of bullying growing up and it took years for me to stand up for myself, then i stood up for every gay or whatever kid that got picked on (thank you punk rock). I’ll be messaging the author on twitter to find out the school. A principal is about to find out alot of people that are 20% cooler than her love their pones. In fact, might put this on 4chan.

    • Caroline Fifi

      Please go to the My Little Pony Facebook page and LIKE my comment asking
      them to donate MLP backpacks to all of the kids in the school. The
      bullies would have the tables turned on them if the whole school is
      using them! Let’s change this and show everyone that the bullies are
      wrong and this child is supported by the world!

    • Caroline Fifi

      Please go to the My Little Pony Facebook page and LIKE my comment asking
      them to donate MLP backpacks to all of the kids in the school. The
      bullies would have the tables turned on them if the whole school is
      using them! Let’s change this and show everyone that the bullies are
      wrong and this child is supported by the world!

    • Joye77

      My 9 year old son is a huge fan of My Little Pony. He considers himself a proud Brony and honestly if he wanted a MLP backpack I would get him one. He does want a MLP T shirt but I am afraid of him being picked on for that. Shame on me.

      • You_Are _Stupid!

        Dont shame yourself. You are making a rational decision related to the best interest of your child.

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    • Ina Pickle

      The principal probably wishes he could punch this kid for being so stupid. I know I wish I could.