- A Nebraska state lawmaker claimed schools are supplying litter boxes for students who identify as cats.
- State Sen. Bruce Bostelman perpetuated the debunked rumor during a televised floor speech Monday.
- He later backtracked after he called some area schools and discovered that that claim was false.
A Nebraska state lawmaker on Monday had to issue an apology to the furries of the world after falsely claiming that schools were providing litter boxes for students who self-identify as cats.
Republican Sen. Bruce Bostelman set the internet abuzz this week after making the comments during a televised debate over a proposed bill meant to assist school kids exhibiting behavioral issues.
During his floor speech, Bostelman said he wanted to discuss a topic that left him “a little shocked.”
“It’s something called furries,” he said. “If you don’t know what furries are, it’s where school children dress up as animals, cats or dogs during the school day. They meow and they bark and they interact with their teachers in this fashion.”
Bostelman continued on, saying he had heard stories that schools were accommodating these children by placing litter boxes in bathrooms. He even claimed that one student who identified as a cat was denied a
and subsequently defected on the floor.
“How is this sanitary?” he asked.
The debunked but enduring rumor has persisted online in conservative parental rights groups since at least December, when a member of the public raised the perceived issue at a Detroit-area school board meeting, according to The Associated Press.
Since then, the claim has also found favor in a private Facebook group called “Protect Nebraska Children,” the outlet reported, and in an Iowa school district, where the superintendent was forced to write a letter to parents denying the “emphatically not true” gossip.
During his floor speech on Monday, Bostelman said that he intended to talk with the CEO of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services about the “disruptive” nature of the alleged accommodations.
Several area school officials later rejected Bostelman’s claims, telling local news station KMTV that the accusation was “ridiculous” and an “ugly rumor.”
Hours after his initial comments, Bostelman acknowledged that the claim was false. After making the public declaration, the lawmaker said he and State Sen. Lynne Walz, a Democrat in charge of the Legislature’s Education Committee, reached out to some schools over their lunch break and discovered that educators were not, in fact, providing litter boxes for children.
“It was just something I felt that if this really was happening, we needed to address it and address it quickly,” Bostelman said, according to The AP.
Bostelman did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.