The mother of a 9-year-old boy in North Carolina says that her son can't take his My Little Pony bag to school because administrators fear that it will make him a target for bullying. Well, guess what? That's exactly what they're doing to him.

Photo credit: Support for Grayson Facebook page

My Little Pony isn't what it was when we were kids. The ponies have grown and taken on a massive fan base — including a subculture who are known as "Bronies." Yes, as you can probably figure out, Bronies are boys who are fans of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic cartoon series. Hasbro, the brand behind the pony franchise, embraces their fans of all ages and sexes. So why is a young boy named Grayson Bruce in North Carolina banned from bringing his My Little Pony bag to school?

Victim blaming

The school claims that it wants to prevent Bruce from being bullied. He's already having trouble with other kids in the school and says he has been pushed around and knocked down. So, the logical step is to change his behavior, right? To keep the bullies at bay?

No. Not even close.

If you're a victim of bullying, or any other type of crime, does it make any sense at all to require you to change? It doesn't. As his mother has pointed out, should women be required to keep their skirts at home so they don't get raped? Nope.

The perpetrators are the ones that need changing.
They are the ones that need their behaviors addressed.

The perpetrators are the ones that need changing. They are the ones that need their behaviors addressed. Many school districts have adopted a zero-tolerance policy as far as bullying goes. So why does this school have a zero-tolerance policy for males to have My Little Pony gear? What they are doing to this child is the very action they had hoped to prevent in the first place — he is being bullied, and bullied by those who are charged with protecting him every day.

An alternative path

Instead of requiring that this child leave his bag at home, how about instead we work on raising children who are not massive jerks? Bullying is a learned behavior, and instead of focusing on the differences between human beings, teach children to embrace them. Parents should watch the language they choose when speaking to (or within earshot of) their children. If they hear other people say that My Little Pony is "gay" or "for girls," then what do we expect them to parrot when confronted by a boy who wants to have a pony bag at school?

Teach them that colors and toys are not gender specific, and that yes, girls can play with trucks and boys can cuddle pink ponies, and that is OK.

As my friend Meagan points out, these changes can and should start at home. "Teach them that all bodies are beautiful, and that they do not have the right to dictate how others live," she says. "Teach them that colors and toys are not gender specific, and that yes, girls can play with trucks and boys can cuddle pink ponies, and that is OK."

This school needs to back off, and they are likely really sorry they took this stance as Bruce has over 30,000 supporters on a Facebook page that his friends and family created for him. I hope that parents will also take this opportunity to teach their children, no matter how young, that treating others this way is inherently wrong, and will never, ever be right. And if you're a boy and like My Little Pony, then go on with your Brony self.

More on raising kids

Teach your children to be flexible about gender
Are gender specific toys beneficial or sexist?
Gender bending: When your son dresses like a princess

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