Nine-year-old Grayson Bruce likely didn't expect to make national news after choosing a "My Little Pony" lunch box to replace his old one, but his story has swept the airwaves over the past week.
The child says he has been punched, shoved and called "horrible names" because of the "My Little Pony" accessory, and his North Carolina school reportedly suggested he hide the lunch box as a solution.
On Monday, multimedia personality Glenn Beck went so far as to put "My Little Pony" dolls on his desk as a gesture of support for the bullied child.
"I thought it was important to send a very clear message to Grayson and everybody else that it's okay to be different," Beck remarked. "While they in Common Core are trying to make everybody exactly the same, it is critical that you remain different. It is critical that you say, 'This is who I am, and if you don't like it, go pound sand. I don't really care.'"
Beck suggested social media users post photos of themselves with "My Little Pony" items using the hashtag
Noreen Bruce, Grayson's mother, told TheBlaze on Monday that Beck's was "probably the best message" she's heard from a public figure, raving that it is "so nice for [Grayson] to see that not everyone out there is mean."
"It's really overwhelming," she added of the response to her son's story. "I didn't expect anything so big!"
Noreen is meeting with the school board of Candler Elementary on Thursday, and hopes to speak about how the issue could have been handled differently and how similar cases will be treated in the future.
Until then, Noreen has pulled Grayson out of school and is handling his education herself.
"Grayson really didn't feel safe going back to school," she explained. "He didn't feel like there was anybody that was on his side. So I applied to do homeschooling ... for now."
Noreen said they are also looking at "great charter schools" in case Candler Elementary doesn't respond the way they hope. So far, Noreen explained, it seems like the school has only acted when faced with public scrutiny. Before the case went public, she said the school sent the wrong "message" by encouraging Grayson to hide his lunch box rather than punish the bullies.
Her greatest hope moving forward is that cases like that of 11-year-old Michael Morones will be a thing of the past. Morones, another boy from North Carolina who was a fan of "My Little Pony," tried to hang himself in January after facing intense bullying at school. Morones is still in the hospital after months in a coma, but his family says he is awake and starting to have limited movement in his arms.
Noreen is horrified that Grayson has also been told to "go kill yourself."
"Even if we can just get parents to talk to their kids about stuff like this -- teaching their kids not to bully and to just care for each other -- then maybe that's what our story was meant to do," she said.
Noreen Bruce is scheduled to appear on The Glenn Beck Program Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. ET. You can watch the full program on just about any digital device. Get it all with a FREE TRIAL.