A nine-year-old boy has been banned by his school from taking his My Little Pony lunch bag to school after he was bullied for carrying the back pack branded 'girly' by his tormentors.
Grayson Bruce suffered physical and verbal abuse from his classmates for choosing to carry his lunch in a bag featuring his favourite My Little Pony character, Rainbow Dash.
"They're taking it a little too far with punching me, pushing me down, calling me horrible names - stuff that really shouldn't happen," he said.
When Grayson's mother, Noreen Bruce, spoke to school officials about the bullying she was shocked at the response she received.
"She [The school counselor] told him he should hide his lunchbox in his backpack and that when you carry things like that these things happen," Noreen said. "I 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 lunchbox he really likes and I feel like he is being sent the message that this is his fault."
Grayson has complied with the school's rules and is currently carrying his lunch in a different bag. However, he refuses to let the bullies put him off his favourite TV programme, saying that while the show is marketed towards girls, "if you watch the show, it's really not that girly."
Officials from Grayson's school district released the following statement to local news outlet WLOS-TV:
"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."
But Noreen is not happy with the way her son's school has handled the situation. She said:
Seeing a lunchbox as a trigger for bullying, you may as well say a short skirt is a trigger for rape. It's flawed logic.
Noreen has found plenty of support online. A Change.Org petition calling for the ban on Grayson's back pack to be dropped and the bullies be held accountable has over 4,000 signatures and a 'Support for Grayson' Facebook page has over 26,000 likes.
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