Mei-Mei the Red Panda in 'Turning Red'

Nebraska Politician Apologizes for Accusing Schools of Installing Litter Boxes for Furry Students

Nebraska State Senator Bruce Bostelman has apologized after going on a rant about litter boxes in schools. The Republican lawmaker was roasted on social media after falsely claiming that schools would be installing litter boxes in their bathrooms for students who identify as cats. Yes, this really happened. Bostelman made the comments during a televised debate, where he said, “They meow and they bark and they interact with their teachers in this fashion, … And now schools are wanting to put litter boxes in the schools for these children to use. How is this sanitary?”

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Oh boy, there’s A LOT to unpack here. First off, Furries aren’t children dressing up as dogs and cats. Furries are people who identify with or are interested in anthropomorphic or cartoon animals. The video, which has since amassed over 700K views, comes from a rumor that circulated in the private Facebook group “Protect Nebraska Children.” The group, which boasts 22K members, is actively campaigning against CSE (comprehensive sexuality education), which includes acknowledging any LGBTQ+ identities or orientations.

A similar rumor also hit an Iowa school district, where Carroll School District Superintendent Casey Burlau was forced to send a letter to parents to address it. They wrote, “The rumor is that our schools have litter boxes in the restrooms to accommodate individuals who are self-identifying as animals. This is simply and emphatically not true.”

These rumors spring from bad faith arguments that peddle homophobia and transphobia. Conservatives love to discuss the “slippery slope” of acknowledging and affirming queer and trans folks. Remember when Republicans claimed that gay marriage could lead to people marrying animals? It’s that same bogus, bad-faith line of reasoning that conservatives are now using to bar trans students from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. After all, if we let trans women use the ladies’ room, what’s to stop liberals from installing litter boxes for these cat-children?!? It’s an insidious false equivalency that leads to more bathroom bills and cruel anti-trans legislation that continues to sweep the country at an alarming rate.

Bostelman apologizes, saying “It was just something I felt that if this really was happening, we needed to address it and address it quickly.” He has since been mocked relentlessly on social media for his absurd statement and gross ignorance.

Now, there is some truth to the kitty litter rumor, but it’s not about animal-identifying students. Time magazine reported that a Colorado school district was supplying teachers with buckets and kitty litter for their students to use. Why? The “go buckets” are part of a school shooting lockdown protocol, so students and faculty can use the buckets while waiting for police to clear an active shooter scene.

I’m sure Republicans like Bostelman have zero problem with kids using litter boxes, as long as it protects every American’s right to own an assault weapon. What an absolute disgrace of a human being.

(image: Pixar)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.