...A recent story out of small-town Iowa was getting lots of twitters and titters: The Carroll school superintendent sent out an email to parents to knock down a false rumor that there were litter boxes in school bathrooms to accommodate students who "identify" as cats.
Some people laughed at how absurd it is that school kids are supposedly going around claiming to be animals. Others were enjoying poking fun at the gullibility of those who were outraged in their misguided belief that children were using litter boxes instead of toilets in school.
Frankly, with all the unbelievably dopey Tik-Tok challenges out there, it's not out of the realm of possibility that some kid, somewhere, has decided to try to emulate a cat to that extreme. If a bunch of teens are willing to eat poisonous laundry pods for a social media post, pooping in sand seems almost harmless by comparison. Disgusting, but not life-threatening.
And lots of people of all ages actually do engage in fantasy role-playing as entertainment. Some go to conventions dressed as their favorite superheroes. Some develop elaborate video-game personas. And others, who call themselves "furries," create animal alter egos and interact with others who do the same.
But the narrative that schools would indulge students in this fashion has a much darker underbelly. I asked Keenan Crow of One Iowa, a LGBTQ advocacy group, if they think it's a coincidence that a story like this would pop up at a time when public schools are under attack and conservative lawmakers are working to put restrictions on transgender and LGBTQ students.
Crow laughed. "No. Not at all," they said. "The real goal with comparing furries to trans people and bringing up stuff like this is, one, to make fun of furries and say, Oh, aren't they so silly. And oh, by the way, transgender identities are just as silly as this. And we should reject the request of a transgender student to use the restroom that matches their gender identity, in the same way that we should reject a student request to use a litter box.'''...