Heidi Ganahl: Colorado schools forced to tell GOP candidate to stop saying students identify as cats - petsitterbank

Heidi Ganahl: Colorado schools forced to tell GOP candidate to stop saying students identify as cats

A Republican gubernatorial candidate in Colorado’s claims that students are dressing up as cats and other furry animals has been widely denied by a selection of school districts in the state.

Heidi Ganahl leveled the wacky accusations against as many as 30 different schools in the state while appearing on the Jimmy Sengenberger Show on Saturday.

“It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it’s happening all over Colorado and schools are tolerating it. It’s insane,” the GOP hopeful challenging Governor Jared Polis next month said in an appearance on the conservative talk show.

“What on earth are we doing? Knock it off, schools. Put your foot down. Like, stop it. Let’s get back to teaching basics and not allow this woke ideology, ideological stuff, infiltrate our schools,” she said, before specifically calling out one school district – Jefferson County – for allegedly allowing their students to be treated like cats.

“We’ve got to focus on the basic blocking and tackling of teaching our kids how to read, write and do math and not put up with this nonsense in the classroom,” Ms Ganahl said on Channel 2 on Sunday, defending her comments. She added during an appearance on the same day on Fox 31 that she’d heard from “over 100 parents” that this was happening and that “Jefferson County, there’s a lot of this going on”.

The comments from the firebrand Republican prompted schools across the state to later issue statements denying the allegations and created a knock-on effect of distracting their teachers and staff from doing what they’ve been trying to focus on all year. That is, creating a normal year back for students who had been sent home for virtual learning for nearly two years after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

“There are no litter boxes in our buildings and students are not allowed to come to school in costume. There are no furries or students identifying as such during the school day,” said the Jefferson County Public Schools in a statement, LGBTQ Nation reported.

Several spokespersons for school districts and individual schools in the state, including the Denver Public Schools, Cherry Creek Schools, Aurora Public Schools and Colorado Springs School District 11, have all issued statements denying Ms Ganahl’s claims that their students are dressing up as animals, while two statewide organizations that represent teachers and administrators have called the claims “exhausting”, according to the Denver Post.

“Our educators have been so focused on having a normal school year going through, we’re focused on all of that lost time that kids had over the last few years, and here we are,” said Bret Miles, the executive director of the Colorado Association of School Executives, in an interview with the denver post.

Alongside his organization, the Colorado Education Association has also flatly denied having any issues like the ones described by Ms Ganahl as ever being reported.

“School districts are spending time chasing down storylines that were purely for political gain. They have nothing to do with what kids are experiencing at school, and it’s shock and awe. It’s just incredibly frustrating,” he added.

The issue of “furries” in classrooms is one that’s been taken up by Conservative lawmakers and activists over the past year, and each time has come up short in being a lived reality of the students the headline makers purport to be protecting.

Earlier this month, Marjorie Taylor Greene – a lawmaker who has flexed her support for conspiracy theorist groups like QAnon and has been suspended from social media platforms for spreading false information about Covid-19 vaccines, took the issue up while stumping with Donald Trump for Republican candidates in Pennsylvania.

“They’re embracing lies, literally embracing lies,” Ms Greene told reporters outside the event. “If some student wants to pretend like a cat and use a litterbox after school, that’s their prerogative, whatever. But no, the school, the school resources and the other students and teachers should not have to be put through that because it’s a lie and we have to reject them.”

Ms Greene and Ms Ganahl aren’t the only Republicans to intentionally try to blur the lines between gender identity being taught at schools with identifying as an animal. The theory has been floated – and each time, widely disputed – in places like Texas, Nebraska and Pennsylvania.

Rumors that students in Nebraska were adorning themselves as cats and classroom accommodations of “litter boxes” were being made became so widely disputed, much like they are now in Colorado, that the purveyor of the conspiracy was forced to issue an apology.

Republican State Sen. Bruce Bostelman was forced to recant comments he made during a televised debate back in the spring that alleged that schools in the state were putting litter boxes in bathrooms for children who are identifying as cats.

“They meow and they bark and they interact with their teachers in this fashion,” Mr Bostelman said during the televised debate, which quickly went viral after being shared by reporter Jon Kipper hours afterwards. “And now schools are wanting to put litter boxes in the schools for these children to use. How is this sanitary?”

The rumour, which appears to be picking up on the widespread panic that is taking hold in right-leaning political circles across the country over fears of gender and sexual politics being taught in classrooms, was quickly put to bed by the state’s superintendent.

Hours after this, Mr Bostelman acknowledged that what he’d said during the debate had indeed been factually incorrect, something that had come to light after he’d consulted with Democratic state Sen Lynne Walz.

“It was just something I felt that if this really was happening, we needed to address it and address it quickly,” Mr Bostelman explained, according to Advocate.

Over in Colorado, Ms Ganahl is not showing any signs of conceding like her Republican peer did in Nebraska, even after several school districts and state organizations have come out to publicly deny any such thing occurring behind classroom doors.

“As a candidate for governor, but more than anything as a parent, my concern is that distractions like children dressing up in costumes at school detract from the reality that 60% of our kids are not performing at grade level,” she said in a statement shared with The Denver Post on Tuesday. “It’s tragic that we are failing our children. We need to make them our priority.”

Ms Ganahl’s promotion of the hoax that students are identifying as cats arrives in the waning weeks of the midterm season, and her last-ditch effort to swirl up a frenzy in voters by promoting a so far unproven theory is one that Republican colleagues across the country also seem to be embracing.

Just last week, Scott Jensen, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota, began repeating the rumor that schools were affixing litter boxes to their bathrooms to accommodate students who identify as “furries”.

“Why are we telling elementary kids that they get to choose their gender?” Mr Jensen began while appearing at a campaign event in Hutchinson, CNN reported. “Why do we have litter boxes in some of the school districts so kids can pee in them because they identify as a furry?”

The Independent reached out to a spokesperson for Ms Ganahl for comment but did not hear back immediately.

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