From the Other Side, Manotick Messenger June 1
We wondered when we would start getting the same inquiries that have been circulating in other parts of Canada and the United States for nearly two years.
Finally, it happened last week.
No. There is no truth to any rumour anyone might tell you regarding students who identify as cats demanding the placement of litter boxes in the washrooms at schools in Manotick, Richmond, Metcalfe, Barrhaven or Riverside South.
The rumours have been circulating since 2021. We aren’t sure who started this particular rumour or which town was the first to deal with it. But it’s here now. And the saddest thing about the rumour is that in the current world where many of us feel trapped between the woke and anti-woke movements, the cat litter thing is very believable.
In the fall of 2021, Prince Edward Island was the first to deal with the barrage of calls and emails inquiring about rumours of cat litter being placed in restrooms for students who identified as cats. Norbert Carpenter was the provincial education director who had to issue a statement stating that there was no truth to the rumours. In an interview with CBC, he said it was no joke.
“It seemed to me like it was a backlash against some of the progressive things that our schools are doing, and we would have many that would say this is rooted in hate and transphobia and homophobia and that message needs to be clear, it’s not acceptable,” he said.
Not long after the PEI situation, the rumours hit much closer to home. The Renfrew District School Board and the Renfrew District Catholic School Board both had to issue statements assuring parents that no cat litter or litter boxes were being placed in restrooms at many of its schools.
The National Post reported that earlier this month, the Durham District School Board had to deal with similar rumours and issue a statement.
“As a district, we are concerned that these types of rumours about accommodating students identifying as furries, may be rooted in transphobia and homophobia with the intent to diminish and trivialize gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation and cause harm to students and staff who identify as 2SLGBTQI,” the statement noted. “This is unacceptable and we are continuing to take steps to support and uphold rights for 2SLGBTQI communities.”
The Durham response to the ridiculous rumours that just keep popping up like cold sores on the face of Canada’s social climate has been the best and most effective. But by looking at the response, we have to wonder why the furries are being dragged into the same conversation as non-binary and transgender rights.
In the United States, the cat litter box in schools rumours have been even more socially and politically harmful than they have been here.
Popular right wing podcaster Joe Rogan fueled the rumours in late 2021 when he asked a former US house representative about litter boxes placed at an unnamed school for students who identify as furries.
Rogan never confirmed the rumour before he ran with it. Since then, according to an NBC report, 20 Conservative politicians in the US have falsely claimed that litter boxes were being placed in schools to accommodate students who identify as cats. NBC did their homework and fact checked. No schools placed litter boxes in schools.
Last November, University of Waterloo Professor Sharon Roberts wrote a story for Canadian Press addressing the issue and explaining what a furry is.
“If your knowledge of furries comes mostly from television or social media, then what you’ve heard about furries is probably wrong,” she wrote. “It’s not your fault — the misinformation is pervasive. I’m not a furry, and I once held erroneous views of furries, too.”
Roberts has been studying furries and Furscience for 15 years.
“Have you heard of cosplay, where people costume as characters? They might dress up as a storm trooper or superhero and attend a comic book convention to have fun with friends. Furries do a similar thing, but with a twist.
“Furries are people who have an interest in anthropomorphism, which specifically refers to giving human characteristics to animals. In its most distilled form, furries are a group of people who formed a community — or fandom — because they have a common interest in anthropomorphic media, friendships and social inclusion.”
So, according to Roberts, furries are no different than people who walk around wearing a Leafs-Sens game wearing Auston Matthews or Brady Tkachuk jerseys.
She also says that the litter box scenario is unlikely.
“Is it possible that somewhere someone has asked for a litter box? Anything is possible and I can’t disprove a negative. But are litter boxes an integral part of the furry fandom? We’ve never observed litter boxes at any of the dozens of furry conventions we’ve attended internationally…
“Many of the litter box rumours also fixate on cats. However, most furries’ fursonas are wild and mythical animals, such as foxes, wolves and unicorns or hybrid species, such as a kangaroo-dragon. These are not the kinds of species that would use litter boxes, anyway.”
So there you have it. There are no litter boxes in schools.
There is also no reason to drag the non-binary, transgender, they/them crowd into the conversation of litter boxes at schools, which we will remind you again is not a thing.
We do our best to be accepting of everyone in this changing world. But in all honesty, is anyone else terrified of the thought of a kangaroo-dragon?