Bullied Boy Can Wear ‘My Little Pony’ Backpack, School Says


Earlier this week we reported on 9-year-old Grayson Bruce, a student in Asheville, NC who was taunted by his classmates for wearing a "My Little Pony" backpack and then told by his school that he couldn't wear it because it is a "trigger for bullying".

Grayson's story received national attention and now the school has reconsidered after meeting with Grayson's mother on Thursday, USA Today reports:

"We are considering all options for getting Grayson back in school," Bruce said after the meeting. "We are pleased the school system is working closely with us. All of the options include Grayson taking his My Little Pony bag to school."

…Bruce met with superintendent Tony Baldwin and director of student services David Thompson, after which she said she felt "much better."

"We had a real heart-to-heart talk," Bruce said. "I strongly feel we can work together to make things better for Grayson and all the students in our school system."

Bruce said she will work with Thompson to help organize a parent advisory council on bullying.


  1. says

    as it should be.

    there’s something brutally wrong with our culture that will shame a boy for liking My Little Pony and champion the fetishization of guns and violence that are a plague on the USA. Nobody, as far as I know, has been the victim of a drive-by PONY-ing. No dude went into a crowded darkened movie theatre and unleashed his “Friendship is Magic” Pony-Love – killing folks. Doesn’t happen.

    Glad to see the school is no longer blaming the victim for the ignorance and bigotry and intolerance of his peers.

    Also, bloody fantastic Mother he has. Gay or straight, this is a kid who will grow up being allowed to be just who he is, however he chooses to be about it. As it should be.

  2. Homo Genius says

    Oh well… at least they haven’t decided for him he has gender issues and started him on hormones or tried to get him to start using the girls bathroom.

  3. Tyler says

    He has the right to bring his MLP bag to school. He shouldn’t be bullied based on this or anything else.

    That having been said, he shouldn’t bring that bag. People react negatively to it, and since this is not a matter of principle, but simply one of fashion or taste, he should leave it at home.

  4. Tyler says

    Oh hey, Rick. Stealing my username again.

    I know you do that because I keep calling you out on your trolling. I’m flattered you’re so obsessed with me. And no doubt you’d be one of the first to bully this kid if you got the chance, since you hate all things feminine and visibly defiant against the status quo.

    Anyway, kudos to this kid. I’m so glad he was allowed to be himself instead of being forced to conform to the (homophobic and close minded) comfort levels of his peers.

  5. says

    Tyler, i’m sorry our resident trolling Eunuch has now set his obsessive bunny-boiling sights on you. For a few years he was focusing solely on me, and now you’re his latest infatuation. Don’t worry – anyone who reads here knows, instantly, that it’s his trolling hack self. So, breathe easy.

    Any poster who makes intelligent sense and comes from a place of confident empowerment earns the bitter infatuation of said troll. He’s still trying to get my attention, today. I’m doing what his parents did long ago – I’m ignoring him.

  6. local teacher says

    As an openly gay teacher in the Asheville area, this story has fascinated me. You see, a mom makes a facebook page saying that her kid is being bullied. Then goes on a national tour talking about that claim. The school is legally unable to comment or respond. So every news organization and blogger goes out and gets wild with indignation based on only one side of the story. Oh what horrible people to punish the victim?!

    Sadly, as noone cares about facts these days or at least reserving any judgement until facts are in, the reality that the school district has strong anti-bullying measures in place, is largely welcoming of gay employees, has a great GSA organization, and that the situation in the classroom is not what is being presented by the mother or the media. (Complaints coming from within the classroom regarding who was actually bullying whom and how the back pack played into it…) Yep. Who cares, as long as we can get our readers/viewers fired up? as long as mom’s facebook campaign paid off? As long as Glenn Beck and Good Morning America have been left feeling smug and proud of their good deeds for the gay/my little pony/bullied community?

    Sadly, as well stated by the Buncombe County School district when the decision was announced today to let him bring the backpack to school again, “We sincerely regret that the issue of being told to leave the bookbag at home was perceived as blaming Grayson. While that was not the intent, the perception became reality.”

    As gay media consumers, we probably need to do a little better being critical thinkers if we are going to survive or hell, if we are going to be happy.

  7. says

    thank you, local teacher, for showing us all that some educators are incapable of understanding nuance that even a child could pick up on.

    the school should have stated: “We sincerely regret not having the integrity to address the actual issue and thinking that having a child give in to his tormentors was even remotely appropriate”

    *mic drop*

  8. local teacher says

    Hey Little Kiwi. Wow. You really are smarter than me. After all, you know how to use sarcasm and spell big words like nuance. Sadly, what you don’t know how to do is to get my actual point. Which is that the story isn’t what it appears to be.

    I am a loud, active, ready to make some noise gay man. I am also a parent who would totally kick some ass if someone told my kid to bow down to bullies. I am also a teacher who has to deal with bullies a plenty. Unfortunately, I also have to deal with the rare fabrication.

    For example, the racist mother I worked with earlier this year who repeatedly accused black kids of bullying her son. “The brown children and even the brown mothers are terrorizing the classroom!” she would declare. The reality was that the students she judged as bullies were actually good students and that her son often made attempts to create false scenarios that would result in him getting attention and praise, even if it meant calling out black kids. The mother continued to accuse innocent children and eventually declared that the school had sided with the bullies because we did not remove the black children from her kid’s class. it was a sad, mental situation.

    So based on how you like to make big judgements based on one sided tag lines, if this mom you don’t know told you her story, would you expect the school to have black children to be moved to new separate classes? Would you write me a big blog about how its people like you that are saving the world?

    Are you running for school principal anywhere? After all, it sounds like you are highly qualified! After all, you are so fair and balanced, right? And you definitely don’t tolerate bullying do you?

    Now I am not saying that this situation has any of the same factors regarding race. What I am saying is that we have no idea as to what the factors were actually involved that led to the decision to forbid the backback other than what mom told the big world media.

    But what I do know is that the district being attacked is far from stupid and takes pretty strong efforts to address bullies in the school. I also know that upset parents have been calling in all week to the local radio complaining that there class has been attacked as a bully pulpit and a lot of kids are weirded out because they are seeing their classroom and school being called bad words on the tv when meanwhile the boy with the backpack whose mom is on tv had a history of hitting others with it and regular name calling.

    the school claims that the perception becomes the reality.

    and since the school can’t legally say anything else. and since you don’t care either way cause you are too busy feeling righteous indignation, then oh well.

    Thanks for teaching me a lesson Little Kiwi. I give you an A+!

  9. says

    So now you are, anonymously of course, insisting that Grayson is a bully himself, and a violent one at that. You are, right now, and anonymously, stating that Grayson has been a physically-violent aggressor in his school.

    Thank you for proving me right. I call your bluff. On everything you said.

  10. JackFknTwist says


    I’m apoplectic at the school getting the wrong end of this.

    The boy is told not to wear “My Little Pony” back pack because it is a ‘trigger for bullying’.

    So any decent teacher/educator would immediately deal with the bullying and those who have the bullying issues.
    Your post is all about the media’s fault, the mother’s fault, the posters here on this site’s fault……
    No. No. No.
    it is an educator’s fault and the problem to be sorted is that kids are using this issues to bully another kid.
    The solution is to deal with those prone to letting their bullying instincts get the better of decent, proper behaviour.
    that is not done by blaming the kid, his mother or the media.
    Aren’t the teachers of NC properly trained ?

  11. jamie says

    So he knows that by wearing the backpack he will be bullied and he continues to wear the backback? Isn’t that the definition of stupidity. If you don’t want to be bullied don’t wear a girl’s backpack?

  12. JackFknTwist says

    PS :
    And yes I have substantial teaching experience; and yes I have dealt with bullies in schools and elsewhere at all levels of society.
    Yes, I said at all levels of society.

  13. JackFknTwist says

    @ JAMIE :

    Yeah, and if you’re gay and get bullied stay at home , keep your mouth shut and make sure you don’t “act gay”.

    RICK, where are you ?

    Haven’t any of you listened to the speech of Miss Panti from the Abbey Stage in Dublin last week about being made to feel inferior ?
    Have you learned nothing ?

    @ JAMIE _ your comment is one of the most shameful I have ever read on this blog.

  14. Tundra4 says

    JackFknTwist “Haven’t any of you listened to the speech of Miss Panti from the Abbey Stage in Dublin last week about being made to feel inferior ?” – Is there a new one? If we’re talking about the same video, the version I watched was published on youtube february 2nd

    If we are talking about the same video, yes I’ve watched it several times and will again. It elevated my consciousness and empowered me. That speech alone has put Panti at the top of my favourite drag queens list.

  15. Contrarian says

    Local Teacher, bravo. Yours is the well reasoned, adult and more importantly eyewitness account of the school in question. One of your critics, if you have not read Towleroad for long is an infamous self-important scumbag, and Towle and partners should have banned him long ago for telling others to commit suicide for having the temerity to disagree with him. Worse yet, this came at the height of the Tyler Clementi suicide off the GW bridge episode. No apology or groveling by said scumbag to the readership as far as I know, ever. So hang in there and ignore the arrows tossed your way, because now you know the type of person you’re dealing with.

  16. Biology says


    ‘Local Teacher’ has a supportive troll, ‘Contrarian’. Could very well be a sock-puppet. Why don’t you just call [yoursel*(f)(ves)] by your true name, Anti-gay Meme Infested Homophobic Scumbag? I guess that’s kinda long.

    Local Teacher, try talking about things that are falsifiable. This – “As an openly gay teacher in the Asheville area…”, “I am a loud, active, ready to make some noise gay man. I am also a parent who would totally kick some ass if someone told my kid to bow down to bullies. I am also a teacher who has to deal with bullies a plenty. Unfortunately, I also have to deal with…” – is worthless text. Your discourse is DIRTY. No one except the homophobes will like it.

  17. local teacher says

    Dear Little Kiwi and friends,

    Prior to today, I have not been one to enter into public debate comment threads and your responses have reminded me of why. You see, I realize from your responses that you are not interested in conversation or dialogue. You are interested in self-righteous platforms. So to end my commenting career, let me state a few final, and hopefully clear statements for you to take in.

    1. I state again that none of you have any information regarding this situation that hasn’t been presented by one individual parent. A parent mind you that thought that the best way to teach her nine year old about community support was to develop a public facebook campaign page that might land her on Ellen rather than actually build networks of support within her actual community. And as for your repeated references to the decision of the school to force a child into hiding, you actually have no actual statement or factual backing to support your claim that this is actually the reason any specific decision was made. I am disturbed that the only facts you need are a “I heard on facebook that….” Afterall, anyone who makes a claim is obviously declaring an actual truth, right? So unless you have spoken to the school board or read a statement from them declaring that the restriction of the bookbag was really to ease the heart of the bully, I am not sure why I nor anyone else is ultimately interested in your manifesto. at least anyone that isn’t a troll looking for fuel to burn. Again, any of you who are basing your argument on the “fact” that the school told the student to hide his interest so as not to upset a bully are merely repeating a talking points given to you by someone other than the people who actually made the decision to restrict the backpack to begin with.

    2. To suggest that despite being a proud, active, queer man who has worked and protested on both coast against discrimination, including work here in my local community on behalf of gay, lesbian, and trans youth, that I am in anyway supportive of practices that demean children who act against gender-stamped/forced expressions is inaccurate. I am not only supportive of the diversity of sexual and gender identity-based expressions within my community, I am a proud member of that same large community. I am trying to remind myself that a person who accuses me of demonizing a child who likes My Little Pony simply for having non-gender stereotyped interests is someone who obviously does not know me.

    3. As for my access to background information regarding this story that you are not prone to have, I am not able to argue much. Its funny. After my initial post, I left work and went to have drinks with friends. I ran into several teachers who not only work in the district but work at the actual school where the child attends. They felt very much the way I do. Not because we are older and wiser than you but because we actually live and work here. These are not backwoods hillbillies. These are progressive, pro-queer, active members and supporters of the LGBT community here in the great Asheville area.

    It is the opinion of those who have direct experience with this story that it is not being transmitted accurately. Legal restrictions forbid the district or any employee from sharing specific information due to confidentiality, however the feeling that the student is a victim of persistent bullying regarding the backpack are not being supported by the highly queer friendly community members involved. In addition, concerns about the student himself and his mother were shared not by facebook but by those who actually work within their community. This is not to demonize the child. It is to state that there are concerns about accountability and honesty and safety, not just for the student but for those who have felt unsafe as a result of the student’s behavior with the backpack. Bullies are not part of a unified team. and unsafe or unkind behaviors can come from both ends of the spectrum and be a result of a variety of unhealthy emotional backgrounds.

    It is also important to note that not only does the district involved have a intensive anti-bullying campaign in effect, the school specifically recognizes sexual orientation and gender identity in their anti-bullying policy.

    4. Not just as a teacher, but as a parent and an adult, I recognize that I live in a complicated world where not everything fits into easy social media perceived boxes of good versus evil. I advocate on behalf of students throughout my school and in my community. As I said, part of my involvement here in town is on behalf of queer youth. I am involved with a variety of efforts to attack homophobia in its many forms. However, it is my belief that before I throw my support into a fight, I know the details of who/what I am defending. I fight for principles but that does not mean I fight blindly.

    I stand beside my concerns that social and mass media simplifications and even hyper sensationalism of this story have resulted in an unfortunate spectacle. I am frustrated with my desire to respond to ill-informed diatribes. But so be it. This is my perspective based on my local reality. Sadly, a few of you will walk away thinking that I am merely endorsing a self-loathing, heterocentric perspective however I also have to realize that again, the world is complicated and filled with assholes who find satisfaction in their own indignation and whose personal work is not to speak out in favor of truth but rather to simply speak so that they can hear themselves shout. Have fun with that Little Kiwi. You too Jackfukntwist. I am sure your pious pulpits provide you with their own rewards. Take care.

    Love, your local Asheville, queer-ass, My Little Pony riding teacher. xoxoxo

    p.s. Dear Biology, I find it interesting that you find my remarks are deemed “falsifiable.” Couldn’t that be said regarding any of the information shared on this thread? On any of the information this whole story is based? I would ask for information on what meets your criteria but that would then insinuate that I was still interested in participating in this sad, angry, late night form of communication. oh well.

  18. local teacher says

    Oh, and one more thing. Thank to Andy Towle for a blog that even though I might argue about the presentation of one story, doesn’t mean I don’t thoroughly enjoy and appreciate overall. Keep up the good work!

  19. says

    I didn’t read any of that, “Local Teacher”. You seem to be claiming to have inside info that Grayson has been a physically-abusive aggressor in his school. That’s the statement you made. Anonymously. I call your bluff ,on all you’ve said. You wanna say he’s been the physically-abusive bully? Citations, please.

    Maybe you can be the visibly contrarian voice to what his mother is doing eh? Are you prepared to do that?

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