Yesterday, an article was posted detailing how a 9-year-old boy named Grayson was being bullied for his My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic themed bag—a Rainbow Dash lunch sack. Stories of young boys being bullied for their interest in MLP is not uncommon. In fact, just last month 11-year-old Michael attempted suicide due in part to bullying. While suicide is a complex issue that is in no way single cause oriented, bullying of this nature is known to do nothing but drastically exacerbate the issue—and in this case spur action.
As we see these stories unfold in the media, I am constantly struck by failure and neglect on the part of the schools involved. What is particularly striking about this instance with Grayson is that the school’s administration told him to either hide his lunch bag in his backpack or stop bringing it to school altogether as it was inciting the bullying and often violent response.
In that instant, the administration put victim shaming into practice, which not only validates and encourages bullies, but wreaks a gamut of emotional havoc upon the victim. Furthermore, they are validating the gender normative ideas that is the root of the bullying in the first place. Why is a 9-year-old boy being called names and being punched in the hallways for liking My Little Pony? Because the show is girly and little boys aren’t supposed to like girly things.
No person should ever be made to feel so negatively about expressing their interests. No child should ever have to be afraid to go to school for being themselves. It is the responsibility of the adults involved to not only protect the victims of bullying, but to create the opportunity for growth, learning, and betterment for the bullies themselves. Reinforcing this type of negative behavior sews a nasty little seed that will only be harder to eradicate as time moves forward.
So I am standing with Grayson, and every other little kid who has gone through this experience—not just as a fellow lover of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but as a bullied child, and a human being.