March 18, 2014 09:30 AM

Grayson Bruce needed a backpack, so he picked one based on his favorite show: My Little Pony.

Unfortunately, bullies at his school in Buncombe County, N.C., don’t share his taste in television.

The decades-old franchise’s current incarnation is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, in which the titular characters laud the importance of friendship.

“Most of the characters in the show are girls … most of the toys are girly … surprisingly I found stuff like this,” Grayson, 9, told local station WLOS-TV, referring to his blue backpack.

But bullies have targeted him because of the accessory: Grayson says kids are “taking it a little too far, with punching me, pushing me down, calling me horrible names, stuff that really shouldn’t happen.”

The school’s solution was to tell Grayson to leave the backpack at home, claiming it had become a distraction and was a “trigger for bullying,” according to WLOS-TV.

Grayson’s mother, Noreen, disagrees. “Saying a lunchbox is a trigger for bullying is like saying a short skirt is a trigger for rape. It’s flawed logic, it doesn’t make any sense,” she told WLOS-TV.

A Facebook page has sprung up in defense of Grayson. Buncombe County officials told WLOS-TV that they “will continue to take steps to resolve this issue.”

RELATED: 11-Year-Old Boy Attempts Suicide After Being Bullied for My Little Pony Passion

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