A fake news story popped up on social media that lead to rumors affecting several school districts across the United States. The rumor is that students who identify as furries are allowed to use litter boxes in school restrooms. Furries are people that dress up as cats or other animals.
The issue was first brought to light at a school board meeting for the Midland Public School District in Michigan, northwest of Detroit. At the meeting, parent Lisa Hansen said she was “a lot of bit upset” and “furious” about learning from someone that litter boxes had been added to bathrooms.
Hansen’s claim was shared in a Facebook group, which was then shared by the Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock. He wrote: “Kids who identify as ‘furries’ get a litter box in the school bathroom. Parent heroes will TAKE BACK our schools.”
Michael Sharrow, the Midland Public School superintendent, later took to Facebook to address the rumor. He insisted that litter boxes have never been inside any school in the district.
Since then, multiple schools across the country have been targeted by similar rumors, all of which are completely false. The story made its way to Iowa, prompting Casey Berlau, a school superintendent in the state, to send a letter to students and parents denying the rumors about litter boxes in restrooms..
Unfortunately, a senator from Nebraska didn’t get the memo. According to John Kipper from KMTV 3 News out of Omaha, the same rumor was mentioned multiple times in a Facebook group called Protect Nebraska Children. The rumor made its way to Senator Bruce Bostelman from the 23rd District in Nebraska.
Instead of verifying the story, Bostelman took it at face value and mentioned it during a floor speech, which was part of a televised debate over a Nebraska school funding bill. His speech went viral, prompting he and Senator Lynne Walz to contact school districts asking about the litter boxes.
Representatives from three districts told the Nebraska Examiner that Bostelman’s comments were false. Josh Fields, a school superintendent, called the comments “ridiculous,” while Superintendent Shaw Scott said: “It’s an ugly rumor.”
Whether you’re a parent at a school board meeting or a lawmaker at a state function, the solution should be the same: Use your head and do your research, otherwise, you too could end up on live television talking about kids pooping on the floor.