Bullied for liking My Little Pony

screen_shot_2014-03-13_at_11.51.56_amIn January, an 11-year old boy from North Carolina tried to end his own life. Michael Morones was found unconscious in his home on January 24th, after attempting to hang himself. Michael was bullied by other children because he likes My Little Pony. Grayson Bruce, a 9-year old boy also from North Carolina, was sent home earlier this month because school officials said his My Little Pony bag was a “trigger” for bullies. In order to return to school, Grayson has been forced to carry another bag. Grayson was also bullied by his peers.

Two young boys, who both like a cartoon, who were both bullied for it. Michael is making a slow yet remarkable recovery, but he will never be the same rambunctious little kid. Grayson is back at school, sans My Little Pony lunch bag, but he has learned what happens if you step outside the lines. Both these little kids were taught early, and repeatedly, the lesson that much of society despises anyone who doesn’t fit the mold. Whatever mold that might be-boys shouldn’t like My Little Pony, girls shouldn’t play RISK, boys can’t like dolls, girls can’t like Legos, boys have to be tough, girls should look feminine-once you try and break it, there is hell to pay.

But it’s always been like that. I have been called “dyke” because I don’t wear a lot of makeup, I don’t like skirts, I have short hair, and I really don’t fuss about my appearance. That’s not the mold into which I am supposed to fit, thus, I’m obviously a lesbian. Because all lesbians look like see where I’m going? Once you generalize about one attribute, one thing, one person, you have to keep generalizing. Todd Kincannon’s minions called me a “tranny,” and upon discovering a photo of me online, Tweeted it as “scaaary.” Yes, a middle-aged woman who just got off a flume ride at an amusement park is “scaaary,” because what, I don’t look like a Fox “news” hostess? I’ll embrace that.

I’m an adult, though, I can handle it. I’m not an 11-year old kid, being called “gay” because I like a cartoon. Michael hung himself on his bunk bed. In a statement to a local ABC news affiliate, bullying prevention expert Nancy Mullin said:

Eleven to 15-year-old boys are very much at risk for thinking about suicide when they’re perceived as being gay.

What were you doing at that age? Perhaps you were struggling with fractions, or reading your first grownup book, or you had a crush, or you were planning your summer vacation, down to the minute. Disneyworld, tree forts, skateboarding, swimming, reading, looking at the stars through a telescope, catching fireflies, eating sweet corn with the butter dripping down your chin. All things Michael Morones should be doing right now, but he’s not. He’s a victim of our desperate need to have everyone be what someone told us they should be. So what if he likes My Little Pony, and so what if Grayson Bruce likes My Little Pony? To some, liking a toy or a show or a person you’re not “supposed to” is permission to attack, harass, abuse, and even kill.

Kids usually learn to bully at home. Mom and/or Dad hate “those people,” and there are a few of “those people” at school, so off Junior goes, hating “those people.” These days, Junior could be learning it by watching television, or visiting the internet, because bullying is everywhere. Adults bully each other online, pundits and politicians behave absolutely abhorrently towards each other, and schools protect the bullies, not the victims. That’s what happened to Grayson-he was sent home, he was told not to bring his My Little Pony bag to school, but his bullies have not been punished. The internet loves boxes and molds. While Googling “My Little Pony,” I came upon a Wikipedia entry. The first sentence of that entry is:

My Little Pony is an entertainment franchise developed by Hasbro which is marketed primarily to girls.

Michael Morones and Grayson Bruce can like My Little Pony, because My Little Pony is cute, and sends a very positive message, and there are a lot of adult men (straight men) who like My Little Pony. They’re called Bronies, and when news of Michael’s suicide attempt came out, these amazing men rallied around him, and his family. They raised money for Michael’s medical expenses, they contacted celebrities who lend their voices to the “My Little Pony” animated show, and they sent dozens of My Little Pony plushies to keep Michael company in the hospital. Michael’s school didn’t do that, a group of men who like the same cartoon he likes did that. Men who don’t fit into the box society has created for them.

I know what it’s like to be young, and surrounded by darkness, feeling the only way out is a permanent one, which is why I write about bullycide and suicide among young people. Michael and Grayson need to know they are loved, they are supported, they need to be told a thousand times, and a thousand times more that there is nothing wrong with liking My Little Pony. The wrong thing? Bullying little kids because they’re different. Different is wonderful, different rocks the world, and changes history, and makes everything sparkly and fun. I love different, I love being different, and someday soon, I hope other people learn to love different, too.

To learn about Michael’s progress, and the foundation his family has created, please visit this link.

Erin Nanasi

Erin Nanasi is the creator of The Bachmann Diaries: Satirical Excerpts from Michele Bachmann's Fictional Diary. She hates writing about herself in the third person. Erin enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family. And wombats. Come visit Erin on on Facebook. She also can be found on Twitter at @WriterENanasi.

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  • Darkthunder

    Guys and Girls alike are free to like, or dislike anything or anyone they want. It’s not up to society to decide which things are “right” for Guys to like, and which things are “wrong”.

    Shame on the school for dealing with Grayson’s problem, by sending HIM home. Why not deal with the bullies instead?

  • Sandy Greer

    When I grew up, boys didn’t take Home Ec, which taught cooking. And yet, your best chefs are male. Go figure.

    Very few girls liked PE. Nowadays, we go to the gym, use weights. So times change.

    Schools need to get on top of bullying, especially ‘sexist’ bullying. Teenage suicides of gays/lesbians who cannot accept themselves are shockingly high.

    For none are islands, and every death diminishes.

  • strayaway

    “What were you doing at that age?”

    During my 3rd grade Christmas break, I discovered to my satisfaction that Santa wasn’t real. After Christmas break, that’s what I told everyone. This resulted in a semi-circle of angry peers surrounding and angrily arguing with me in the hall. Also. the principal called my parents and asked them to request me to say no more because a couple of upset parents had called him. My Father just relayed the conversation without asking me to do so. He was cool that way. So it began. Now, I find myself telling people that Obama is not Santa. Obama is not Santa. He can’t even play chess. Republicans aren’t much better. Get over it.

    • Guile Williams

      You stopped believing in Santa in 3rd grade? I’m sorry. To have lost that magic so early is sad. While I am old enough to not believe in Santa, every Christmas I am always chasing that magic.

    • Sandy Greer

      Obama is not Santa? Where have I heard THAT innuendo before?

      That the only reason ‘gimmedats’ voted for Obama is so the Welfare cheats can get their hands on the ‘freebies’. That we Commies are on the Slippery Slope to Socialism, where your money is my money.

      ^^^Yeah, we heard it all before. And we’re not buying it. Get over it.

      But, nice deflection. Now, the real question is:

      1) What do you think of My Little Pony?
      2) You know…the point of the article?

      PS: It was 3rd grade for me too, but I took no satisfaction in Magic lost.

      • strayaway

        The question I answered was in the fourth paragraph. Too bad about the boy but I guess different kids are going to respond differently when they are at odds with the majority for the first time. Genetic dispositions creating differing responses? Maybe but my guess is that the boy cared too much about fitting in. That would be cultural. You’ve got it down on Obama though. Maybe you projected the magic.

        There is the option of being cast out of the Garden for eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and being content with that even though ignorance was bliss. Don’t forget Odin who gave his eye for knowledge. There is always a cost.

        See? we can still find things to disagree about.

        “The most dangerous enemy of truth and freedom amongst us is the compact majority – yes, the damned compact Liberal majority – that is it! Now you know!” -Ibsen’s Stockman from “An Enemy of the People” Act IV

      • Robbie Bobby

        “The boy cared too much about fitting in…” You sound like a classic example of a victim-shaming ignoramus. A child does not “care too much” – a child does not bear the responsibility to care less – You and your conservative ilk and your prescribed gender roles, sexism, racism, and lies bear the responsibility for this kind of bullying. You are to blame. Raise children to care MORE. Don’t expect any of us to care less.

      • strayaway

        My wife (note: ‘wife’, not ‘partners’) and I raised a family. Our kids all learned to work, be responsible, paid for their own undergraduate tuition and graduated in four years, earn a ton more money than I ever did, and are great parents. I’m proud of them. How are your kids doing Bobby? My kids came out good but I know that kids in places like Detroit are the result of decades of voting Democratic; places where government handouts have replaced dads. Look up the numbers on the success rates of single parent moms. We aren’t talking about one over sensitive kid. There are thousands of young people is such Democratic cesspools in jail, dropped out, dead, if they weren’t aborted thanks to your prescriptions Bobby. Or what about rich Democrats’ kids like Sandra Fluke or any who grew up in Hollywood, entitled all, who don’t even have an idea what an embarrassment they are to their parents.

      • Sandy Greer

        Is it better a man has a wife than a ‘partner’? Isn’t the important thing that he loves?

        I didn’t choose heterosexuality. Neither did you. Our sexuality is as natural to us as breathing.

        And so it is with homosexuals. Their only ‘choice’ is to live a lie, get back in the closet, or be ‘openly’ gay, and proud.

        It’s not their fault they can’t marry. That’s on us (heterosexuals) that we deny them the husbands and wives (married status) we take such pleasure in. That’s on us we say they must make do with ‘partners’.

        You sound like a good father, justly proud of his children. Good on you, for a job well done.

        But you have no right to say what is an ’embarrassment’ to OTHER parents, unless you know those parents personally. I submit that even rich Democrats in Hollywood may be proud of their children.

        I agree with Robbie that it’s only natural young children want to ‘fit in’. It’s only later, when we are grown, we go our ‘own’ way.

        Back to gays, and it not being a ‘choice’:

        I personally have known some (both sexes) wanted to ‘fit in’ so much they married, and had CHILDREN.

        ^^^It was only later, in their 30s-40s, they just couldn’t live that lie anymore, and came out of the closet.

        Better we allow people to be who and what they are from the get-go. Saves ever so much trouble, that way.

      • strayaway

        This isn’t a thread about hetero vs. homosexuality. I didn’t use partner to specify either but rather vague relationships. That’s the problem with the word ‘partner’, it can mean whatever. But to answer your first question; usually yes, if kids are involved. I do have the right to voice an opinion that I think that the likes of Sandra Fluke and rich entitlement children are what i would consider embarrassments. I doubt that I would be alone in that judgement. Imagine a 30 year old adult who somehow affords a $40,000/year school and then goes on national TV wanting taxpayers to give he $12/ month for pills for her recreational sex. In her case it is probably a good investment for society but how could her parents have been less than humiliated?

      • Sandy Greer

        You have the right to say what YOU would be embarrassed by. But that’s not what you said.

        You are NOT the arbiter of what others, unless you know them personally, are embarrassed and/or humiliated by.

        You ask an interesting question:

        >how could her parents have been less than humiliated?

        Are we proud of our children only when they follow in our footsteps? Or can we be proud when they strike out on their own, in a direction we might not have chosen for them?

        ^^^I say yes to the second.

        I am proud of a person who, even without the backing of the ‘majority’ has the Courage to go their own way, and speak their own thoughts. Proud of the person who stands for what they believe, especially when heaped with scorn and contempt.

        ^^^I don’t even have to agree, to admire that.

        And THAT is why I say her parents might not be so embarrassed/humiliated by her as you assume. 😉

  • Katrina Engel

    When I was 11 I was 5’10” tall. My pants were too short, so I wore boots. I only had one pair and they were black, so I wore a lot of black to match. I had long straight brown hair, and my last name was Engel. I was in roughly the 15th of the 24 schools I attended, as a child of a military family. I was, apparently, a Satanist because I wore black. A whore because I wore black. I was Laura Ingalls. I was the biggest girl, so any girl, and some of the guys, who wanted to be tough had to beat me up. They said I was sleeping with the English teacher because I got good grades in his class. My veteran father came on parent’s day and it went round that I slept with my dad and liked it. As I was walking across the school lawn circles would suddenly form, forcing me to deal with another challenger, another fight. I was always the one suspended. The only person I could remotely call a friend was the girl with diabetes who I had helped with a well timed Jolly Rancher one day. She would always say hi in the hall. Otherwise I was alone.

    And I am fine.

    I am fine because of one person. I don’t remember his name now, but I will never forget his face. I was in class, a teacher who was very strict about being prepared. If you don’t have a pencil when you come to class, you don’t get one from him, and you don’t get to do the assignment. It was midterm test day, and apparently my pencil fell out when Bobby Volker had pushed me in the hall. I looked around the faces seated near me, knowing there was no chance of borrowing, and resigned myself to failing the class, breathed deep and fought the tears. I felt a tap on my shoulder, turned. He was one of the best liked guys in the school. Best clothes, best grades, best friends. He was one of the perfect ones. He smiled, broke his pencil in half, and gave me the eraser end. Then he went back to his test, as if I no longer existed. I sharpened that broken pencil, and aced my midterm. With that simple act, he saved me. I held it up like a candle, proof that there was some light in the world.

    If you want to save these children, teach yours to give away the eraser end.

  • Grumpmaster_Zz

    The answer is not to tell the kid to bring a new bag; the answer is to tell the little dickwads who were bullying the kid to STFU or get the hell out of the school.