John M. Becker

NC School Punishes 9-Year-Old Victim, Not His Bullies

Filed By John M. Becker | March 17, 2014 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: backpack, bullying, Grayson Bruce, My Little Pony, North Carolina, school bullying, victim blaming

grayson-bruce-my-little-pony-backpack.jpgGrayson Bruce is a nine-year-old boy from North Carolina whose favorite cartoon series is My Little Pony. His mom Noreen approves: "It's promoting friendship, there's no bad words, there's no violence, it's hard to find that, even in cartoons now," she told WLOS-TV. So to take his lunches to school, Grayson bought a backpack featuring Rainbow Dash, a character from the show.

That's when the trouble started.

Once Grayson started bringing his brightly-colored backpack to school, other kids began bullying him for having a bag that they say was meant for a girl. "They're taking it a little too far," Grayson says, "...punching me, pushing me down, calling me horrible names, stuff that really shouldn't happen." But instead of punishing the bullies, officials at Candler Elementary School decided to punish Grayson instead, telling him to leave the backpack at home because it's a "distraction" and a "trigger for bullying."

Needless to say, the school's course of action did not sit well with Noreen, who wants the school to discipline the students who are bullying her son instead of punishing the victim. "Saying a lunchbox is a trigger for bullying, is like saying a short skirt is a trigger for rape," she says. "It's flawed logic, it doesn't make any sense."

David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement has more:

Grayson's mom says she "was later contacted by the principal saying Grayson could no longer bring this lunchbox to school. My son is being called awful names and has even been told to 'go home and kill himself!' Now on top of everything he can't bring a lunch box he really likes and I feel like is being sent the message that this is his fault."

And she says one school counselor told her Grayson "should hide his lunch box in his backpack and that when you carry things like that these things happen."

The school claims that its request that Grayson accommodate his bullies was only a precautionary measure, and that it's "[taking] steps to resolve this issue." But so far, no further public investigative and/or disciplinary measures have been taken. For now, Grayson and his mom have chosen to comply with the school's request, even though they strongly object.

While Grayson hasn't found much support from administrators at his school, he's experiencing an outpouring of sympathy and solidarity online. A petition asking the school superintendent to allow Grayson to bring his Rainbow Dash backpack to school has already gathered over 3,600 signatures, and more than 16,000 people have liked the "Support for Grayson" Facebook page.

Watch WLOS's report:

h/t: ThinkProgress.

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