116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Back in May I wrote a column about the ridiculous myth circulating across Iowa and several other states that schools are putting litter boxes in bathrooms to accommodate students who identify as animals, or “furries.”
It was prompted by a Republican state senator from Fort Dodge, Tim Kraayenbrink, who told an audience at a legislative forum that a school in his district installed litter boxes. When pressed, he refused to identify the school and said he was told about it in a confidential conversation. Within days he said he “misspoke” and apologized for “miscommunication.”
He spread the lie while criticizing Linn-Mar’s transgender support policies for transgender students. So the litter box myth is basically a slander against those kids as part of an effort to undermine their rights and policies that uphold those rights. Kraayenbrink is a bit player in a campaign of manufactured fear that includes Gov. Kim Reynolds, U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson and other top Republicans.
Since I wrote that column in May, it has received tens of thousands of pageviews, averaging several hundred each week. Nearly all of those pageviews are generated from online searches, likely by people wondering what’s up with this school litter box thing.
So it wasn’t a big surprise when I got a call Tuesday from a guy who lives near Philadelphia. His school district, like so many others, has been embroiled in right wing anger over transgender support policies, allegations of teachers “grooming” kids, calls for book bans and the removal of pride flags. He didn’t want me to use his name or identify the school district.
At a school board meeting he attended Monday night, a speaker asked what’s next, litter boxes in bathrooms? Confused, the guy took to Google and found my column. Someone else in his community also posted my column on Facebook.
Litter box nonsense has been refuted again and again. And yet, the lie won’t die.
It’s sad indicator of how little facts mean to people searching for reasons to justify discrimination and hatred. No amount of columns, articles and fact checks pointing out the lie can kill it, so long as there are people and politicians willing to spread the lie for political gain.
Speaking of Pennsylvania, Republican Georgia U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene recently stoked the litter box fantasy ahead of a recent Trump rally in the state. A reporter from the Right Side Broadcasting Network told her about a student he heard about in Texas who identified as a cat.
"They're embracing lies. I mean, literally embracing lies. Okay, if some student wants to pretend like a cat and use a litter box after school, that's their prerogative, whatever. But no, the school and school resources and the other students and teachers should not have to be put through that, cuz it's a lie" Greene said.
Of course, the real lie is this isn’t really happening. But in Greene’s world, the lie is that being transgender is a real thing. In Greene’s world, wildfires are started by a space laser.
Back in the real world, a federal judge this week refused to issue an injunction halting enforcement of Linn-Mar’s transgender policies, ruling that an injunction would leave students without protection from bullying and harassment. Pulling that protection is the point of the lawsuit, and the litter box lies.
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