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Iowa is being plagued by multiple cases of what I’m diagnosing as a strain of cat scratch fever.
Symptoms include a fever, which is worsened by spending lots of time in conservative culture war fever swamps. There’s also a loss of appetite, for facts.
But the clearest evidence you’ve been stricken is believing that public school districts in Iowa have placed litter boxes in school bathrooms to accommodate kids identifying as animals. I wish I were making this up.
As for the rest of us, expect headaches, confusion and exhaustion.
And despite the best efforts of the reality-based community to find a cure, the condition continues to spread. The truth has been declawed.
I received an email last Saturday morning from a guy I know in Fort Dodge dating back to my time at the Fort Dodge Messenger. Ernie Kersten had been at the “Eggs and Issues” legislative forum in Fort Dodge, where state Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge, went on a curious riff about why Iowa needs to offer publicly funded scholarships to help families send kids to private school.
Kraayenbrink said a school district in his Senate district put litter boxes in bathrooms to accommodate “furries.” He also pointed to an unidentified school district where he said girls are wearing one-piece bathing suits to shower because boys are infiltrating their showers.
“Are you hearing similar nonsense?” Kersten asked. Yeah, unfortunately.
Sure enough, the Messenger was on the scene at Eggs and Issues to report on the senator’s thoughts.
“Not in the Fort Dodge district, but in my Senate district, they’re requiring these schools to put kitty litter boxes in the bathroom,” Kraayenbrink said, according to the Messenger’s Kelby Wingert. “The thing is, these things are happening in Iowa on a regular basis and nobody knows about it, because the media doesn’t cover these things.”
Of course, the media is keeping littergate secret. It’s a cat-spiracy. By the way, this is one of the 32 Republican senators guiding public policy in Iowa, not your nutty cousin on Facebook.
Naturally, Wingert wanted to know which school district the senator was referring to. Using catlike political reflexes, Kraayenbrink tried to scratch some litter to cover up the mess he made.
In a text message Sunday, Kraayenbrink told the Messenger he found out about the litter boxes during a “confidential” conversation and he does not “feel comfortable” identifying the district.
And why is that?
Well, it’s instructive to note that before Kraayenbrink went on his flight of feline fancy, he was talking about the Linn-Mar School Board’s recent decision to pull together its existing policies for supporting transgender students into a cohesive plan that follows state and federal law. Linn-Mar’s entirely reasonable decision has become the latest target of the recklessly unreasonable and perpetually outraged. Bathrooms! Locker rooms! Danger!
Kraayenbrink and other conservatives are working overtime to prove allowing transgender kids to live authentically in a safe school environment puts us on a path toward societal collapse. What’s next? Well, litter boxes, apparently. So the litter box stories are part of an effort to smear transgender kids and justify restricting their rights. It’s a slippery slope covered with culture war slime.
The solution, obviously, is to take tens of millions of dollars from public schools and give it to private schools, because parents should be scared to send their kids to public schools. Why is damn near everything the GOP pushes anchored in manufactured fear?
On Wednesday, Kraayenbrink said he “misspoke” and apologized for “miscommunication.” I’m sort of surprised he didn’t claim he’s a victim of radical woke liberals and raise money. Kersten initiated an effort to send the senator bags of kitty litter. Brilliant.
Meanwhile, back in Marion, at last week’s Linn-Mar School Board meeting, board member Matt Rollinger, who opposes the district’s transgender policies, got an earful from fellow board members about his attendance at a closed-door meeting with Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson. The meeting called together opponents of the transgender policy to discuss their misguided opposition in a “comfortable” setting, without pesky media or parents, such as myself, who support the district’s move. He didn’t inform his colleagues or the district about the meeting.
Rollinger, according to Gazette education reporter Grace King, insisted he was not there as a representative of the school board. “I very specifically said I am here speaking on my own behalf,” Rollinger said.
So he wasn’t wearing his school board hat at the meeting. Maybe he was wearing the “Joe and the Hoe Gotta Go” hat he sported in a photo circulated on social media during last year’s school board campaign. So many hats!
King also reported that state guidance on transgender student equity has disappeared from the Department of Education website. Odd.
Seriously folks, this sad spectacle is demoralizing and exhausting. Consider the message it sends transgender kids. Instead of seeking more understanding about their lives and approaching these issues with empathy and an open mind, the leaders of their state are spitting venom, stoking divisions and embracing nonsense.
These kids are not a threat. They just want to live their lives and go to school, without fear of abuse. As I’ve said, we should just put away the chants, flags and signs and leave them alone. Leave them alone.
Remember how rightward marching culture crusaders said same-sex marriage would destroy society and bring on scary stuff such as rampant polygamy? I do. They were wrong then and they’re wrong now. All these harmful, spiteful tactics targeting Iowans and their rights for a political payday carry an unmistakable stench. They should be tossed into the litter box of history.
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