Friday, March 21, 2014

It Isn't About the Backpack

I am glad to see that the world has indeed NOT gone crazy. It appears that the North Carolina school that had previously banned a little boy from bringing his My Little Pony backpack to school, has decided to allow him to bring it and also take measures to prevent bullying.


While I am glad that the school made the right decision, it seems to me a bit too little, too late. From what I understand, there was a petition that was signed with thousands of signatures and then the school changed its tune. But takes some signatures to show school officials they need to do the right thing? Since when do we teach the victims that it's their fault!? How about we teach kids to stop being little taunting turds!?

Really, it isn't about the My Little Pony backpack. It's about learning to be yourself. It's about being able to feel safe at school. It's about not tolerating bad behavior. It's about telling crappy kids to stop being crappy and telling crappy adults to stop being crappy. It's about the kid with autism. Or the kid with a lisp. Or the little boy who can't afford a new pair of shoes. Or the little girl with two dads. Or no dad. It's about teaching kids to be kind (or at the very least, respectful). Schools and parents need to have a collaborative relationship on how to take care of kids and teach them about being confident and to advocate for their safety, but to advocate for their safety by not tolerating threatening behavior, not by telling kids to hide or be ashamed of who they are. When I first read this story, my heart sank for that mom and little Grayson, but then it sank for all the kids in that school who don't have the people in place to help them learn about how to exist in a world where no one person is the same as anybody else.  How can kids learn to advocate for themselves when the adults in their school won't advocate for them?

I am so abundantly blessed to have my children in a school system that is willing to learn about how to serve kids like my little Eli, who want to carry the backpack they like, or wear the clothes they feel comfortable in and who don't want to draw attention to themselves, but to just BE.

Because, really, it isn't about the backpack.