Teen Boy Suspended For Carrying A Purse To Class

vera-bradleyVera Bradley owes a debt of gratitude to one Skyler Davis, the 13-year-old Kansas eighth grader suspended for wearing one of its bags to class, as his story is bringing the purse purveyors national attention.

Skyler’s been carrying the colorful Vera Bradley bag to Anderson County Junior-Senior High School since August with nary an issue, until Wednesday when he was called into the assistant principal’s office for refusing to take it off. After refusing once again to take off the sassy satchel, Skyler was suspended.

His mother, Leslie Willis, is furious over the school’s decision, labeling it discrimination because girls are allowed to carry purses without fear of repercussion. Not so, says Anderson County Superintendent Don Bloome, who claims the bag rule applies to everyone regardless of gender and has been in place for at least 10 years.

“We strive to make sure we treat every kid alike and there are classroom rules we expect kids to follow,” Bloomed told KCTV5. “They can bring (bags and purses) to school. There’s no policy against that. But the classroom rules are that they can’t bring it to the classroom.”

Willis said she reviewed the student handbook and found no mention of Bloome’s bag order and said that if that is indeed the rule, it should be formalized in the handbook. Skyler’s brother, Dakota Haight, also came to his defense, arguing that girls are allowed to wear bags and short shorts, and that it’s “not right” that his brother got kicked out for his purse.

Thursday afternoon, Vera Bradley in tow, Skyler returned to school where he was subsequently disciplined yet again.

“He was pulled into an office, behind closed doors to tell him that he was never suspended for refusing to take off his purse, he got suspended for foul language,” Willis wrote in an email to KCTV5. “That’s not the story that [Assistant Principal Don] Hillard told me yesterday. Skyler is only 13 years old. He’s just a child. And if this isn’t bullying, I don’t know what is.”

She added that her son was also criticized by school personnel for going public with his story, though she says she taught her son to “speak freely about what’s bothering him.”

For now, Skyler is standing his ground, and unless he takes off his purse, his suspension will continue. The teen, however, has no immediate plans to do so, telling KCTV5, “It expresses myself and I think everyone else can wear it, so I wear it as well.”

Skyler’s mom wants to find “some compromise in this,” but it seems Vera Bradley has some ideas of its own. After Skyler’s story went viral, the bursa bursar offered some of its wallet wares to the fashion-forward…kid — I ran out of alliterations.

“Vera Bradley creates products that allow all of us to express our individual style,” the company said in a statement. “We encourage self-expression through color and design.”

Well, good for Skyler for standing up for what he believes in. Meanwhile, this reminds me of the time I wore a Dior clutch to school and got kicked out for refusing to take it off. Anyone care to encourage my self-expression? Oh, it also had $10,000 in it. I’d like that to be encouraged as well. Thaaaaaaanks.

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  • pazmateo

    As a gay man who carries a purse (a much better purse than a Vera Bradley, but that’s neither here nor there), I feel for the discrimination this kid faces on a daily basis. That being said, at my high school (not THAT long ago…) no one could carry their purses or backpacks to class. If a girl brought her purse to class, she had to go put it in her locker. It wasn’t allowed for boys to bring their backpacks/bags either. I hope that this isn’t a case of misappropriated hype because of what a hot button issue this could be, e.g. the boy who cried wolf…

  • getbackjoe94

    I completely understand the kid’s argument. In my high school,and even my middle school, we had a no bag policy that *was* written in the handbook. Regardless, girls would always bring their purses to class. I mean, some guys brought backpacks to class, but they were the star athletes in my grade, so they were special. But if just some guy decided to bring wear a purse, not only would they be told to put it in their locker, most students would probably make fun of him, and the school wouldn’t do anything about it, saying something along the lines of “Well, you know the risks when you wear something like that.”

  • hyhybt

    That the rule is supposedly long-standing, yet isn’t in the handbook nor, apparently, is enforced regularly, is more than a little suspicious. Moreso since claiming it exists contradicts saying he was suspended for foul language.

    But that schools create and enforce arbitrary and stupid rules for their own sake is a problem in itself, albeit not a gay-related one.

  • litper

    A little teen with a purse! OMG!!! What could be more threatening to them?!!

  • Aric

    I’m not even reading this article. I may throw up.

    Hi, America, please do better. Also, can we get this boy a Michael Kors bag? Vera is over.

  • Dixie Rect

    This reminds me, I may have to go shopping with my dear friend Eaton Hawtcum and get a new bag.

  • Teleny

    That boy is cute- not in a gross way-like I wish he was my kid. :)

  • jwtraveler

    It never ceases to amaze me what trivial issues people manage to get worked up about. Does the school district care as much about what these kids are learning as it does about what they’re carrying around with them?

  • ArmieShieh

    This is so funny to me! I live in Asia and this would be considered a school bag, albeit a colorful one. I’m confident that I would not get one odd look if I wore it in public.

  • Goforit

    Whaaaat? I realize that I am from a different era but…. You are not allowed to bring your purse of backpack to class? Now how in the hell are you supposed to make it to your locker, get your drugs, make it back and have a few tokes with your drama teacher, return the drugs to your locker and still make it to your next class on time? Is this yet another stupid Republiklan rule? What’s this world comming to?

  • dayglowjim

    I like that bag, in fact I want one!

  • Snapper59

    He needs to put a little Bible in it and call it his dear “Bible bag”. He’d be lauded.

  • halfahomo

    That’s a purse he has! Honestly looks to me like it could pass as a school book bag, now he does need one IN CLASS to carry his books doesn’t he?

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