Earlier this month, an elementary school in Buncombe County, N.C., banned 9-year-old Grayson Bruce from carrying his My Little Pony backpack, saying it triggered bullying.
According to the student’s mother, one of the school counselor’s suggestions was to hide it.
“If you have something like this you’re asking for trouble.”
Think about it…BANNING is actually teaching and reinforcing intolerance, BANNING is not helping youth learn how to be tolerant and inclusive. If a school bans My Little Pony backpacks because it might lead to bullying, what’s next? Banning students with red hair, banning students who are overweight, banning students in wheel chairs and banning students with learning disabilities?
This school is missing the bigger picture and missing an opportunity to help ALL students learn a valuable life lesson from this situation.
As I think back to my days as a student, I now realize how lucky I was because my parents and a couple of really good teachers I had along the way did not BAN THINGS, they explained why an action or behavior was not a good idea and what the consequences would likely be. This “student awareness” helped me understand how ALL OF MY decisions had consequences – good and bad consequences.
Schools should be teaching tolerance, not banning items that may cause a distraction, which is a no-win situation for everyone. Schools should help build a culture of acceptance, build self-confidence and teach youth about how they can respond to potential bullying students and teach youth about the consequences bullying can have on their peers and on their own future.
K-12 schools and Higher Education institutions are in way too many headlines for diversity and intolerance problems. And Higher Education headlines are revealing what happens when K-12 schools use “banning” approaches rather than “awareness” approaches. Banning only reinforces intolerance and exclusion; banning does not address the source of intolerance to prevent problems from re-occurring in the future – in Higher Education and in the workplace.
Why do adults prefer banning? Are adults becoming more disconnected? Are adults becoming more intolerant? Are adults giving up and just taking the easy way out with banning? Are adults setting the right examples for youth? Are school and college leaders not equipped for the next generation?
Looking at news headlines and tragedies, it is crystal clear every adult and every youth on the planet could benefit from better awareness and a better understanding of “inclusivity, diversity and tolerance”.
Connecting the dots and providing the right awareness at the right time are keys to preventing many problems in our schools, colleges and society today. If you believe banning My Little Pony backpacks is the best way to prepare students for the real world…it is time for you to get reconnected to the real world and stop contributing to a serious and growing problem.