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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/10/22

Keep Kitty Litter Out Of Classrooms

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Carl Petersen
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"Schools are wanting [SIC] to put litter boxes in the schools for these children to use. How is this sanitary?"
"- Nebraska State Sen. Bostelman (R)

To listen to the right-wing outrage machine, our schools are inundated with "hundreds of thousands [of students] across America" who are "coming to class wearing tails, fake animal ears, and even leashes." Republican politicians, including elected officials, from throughout the country jumped on the "crisis" posed by "furries," often claiming that educators "are putting litter boxes in schools for people who identify as cats." Donald Trump Jr. stated that "up in New England they had litterboxes." Joe Rogan discussed the experience of a friend's wife who is a teacher "who works at a school" where a "mother badgered the school until they agreed to put a litterbox in one of the stalls" to accommodate her daughter who identifies as a cat. His guest, Tulsi Gabbard, declared the situation to be "insane."

Rogan was later forced to admit that "I don't think they actually did it" as there was not "any proof that they put a litter box in there." Researcher Sharon E. Roberts states that "as someone who has studied furries for over a decade, the purported behavior of asking for litter boxes in restrooms is not supported by the research." While "there is a real subculture of people known as furries," this community is more likely to "roleplay as anthropomorphized animal characters" than to "identify" as something other than human. One notes "that there are no litter boxes at furry conventions."

The fact that this "moral panic" is a reaction to urban myths repeated by politicians desperate for ammunition for their culture wars does not mean that kitty litter is not actually being stored in our classrooms. As noted in a rebuttal regarding lies about the Furry Threat by GOP gubernatorial nominee Heidi Ganahl, the Jefferson County school district in Colorado notes that it "has been stocking classrooms with small amounts of cat litter since 2017". The district, which includes Columbine High School where 12 students and one teacher were shot to death in 1999, includes the absorbent material in "go buckets" that are used in lockdowns. My own daughter came back horrified from elementary school when she had to go to the bathroom in kitty litter behind a sheet when a gunman was reported in the neighborhood and her class was placed on lockdown.

The fact that schools have to stock up on kitty litter due to gun violence should horrify our politicians a lot more than an imagined epidemic of furries. As shocking as a student dressing up as an animal may be, it is completely harmless and they will return home safely at the end of the day. While they may eventually move on from this interest in furry cosplay, a child shot dead at school will never get the chance to have a chance at having any future. As made clear by the Alex Jones trials, the parents they leave behind will be forever scarred.

As of May 25, 2022, 169 children have died in US mass school shootings since Columbine. Every time one of these shootings makes the headlines, we pretend as a society that something will finally be done. Time after time our politicians fail to act and another shooting takes its place in the headlines. The right wing pretends that being honest about sexuality will harm students while living through lockdown drills along with fear of gun violence does actual psychological damage.

Our children should not be using litter boxes at school because someone is running around with an under-regulated gun. Airport-level security and campus police should not be required in our schools. Parents should not be forced to see children with gunshot wounds so severe that their little bodies cannot be identified without the aid of DNA tests. This is where the real outrage should be focused.

(Image by Sydney Thiroux)   Details   DMCA

Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with special education needs and public education. He was elected to the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and is the Education Chair. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him "a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles." For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.

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Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)

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