Election 2022

GOP gov. candidate claims schools are overrun with “kids identifying as cats”

Heidi Ganahl
Heidi GanahlPhoto: Screenshot

Heidi Ganahl, the Republican candidate for governor of Colorado, claims that student “furries” are identifying as cats in over 30 different schools in the state.

“Not many people know that we have furries in Colorado schools,” she said on the Jimmy Sengenberger Show this past Saturday. Yeah, kids identifying as cats.”

“It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it’s happening all over Colorado and schools are tolerating it. It’s insane.”

“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.”

Ganahl claimed that she moved from Boulder Valley to Douglas County four years ago to escape the furries “in my kids’ schools.”

And she accused one school district in particular of allowing furries to be treated like cats in school.

“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,” she said on Channel 2 on Sunday, defending her comments. “I just heard from over 100 parents identifying 30 different schools that this is happening. Jefferson County, there’s a lot of this going on.”

Jefferson County Public Schools was forced to release a statement that said, “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.”

Many Republicans have been spreading the idea this past year that schools are catering to student-furries, allowing them to use litter boxes in class, meow and bark instead of talk, and pet each other at school. It’s just one of many recent moral panics from the right about schools, which includes the idea that schools are teaching critical race theory to students and that schools are turning kids transgender.

An early example of the stories about students identifying as house pets and demanding litter boxes was Michigan activist Lisa Hansen. Because Hansen opposed federal regulations allowing trans students to use school restrooms matching their gender identities, she claimed that students who identify as cats were allowed to use litter boxes in one school’s unisex restroom.

A Michigan school superintendent was forced to write an email to parents debunking such a lie. Nevertheless, the lie has been repeated by right-wingers, including by Nebraska Sen. Bruce Bostelman (R).

During a televised debate, Bostelman claimed that student “furries” were allowed to interact with teachers by meowing and barking. He also said that one student who was denied a litter box later defecated on a classroom floor. Bostelman later admitted that the story wasn’t true.

It has been spread online by anti-LGBTQ activists like Chaya Raichik of LibsofTikTok, when she pushed a lie that a second-grade Texas schoolteacher encouraged students to become furries. The Austin school district disavowed the claim as misinformation.

Similarly, Christian hate pastor Aaron Thompson and anti-LGBTQ televangelist Andrew Wommack both said that schools allow students to identify as animals and demand litter boxes in classrooms. Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock also repeated the lie.

Ganahl isn’t even the first Colorado Republican to spread the furry lie. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) has claimed that a father in Michigan told her that his son got into trouble when he stepped on the tail of a student who identified as a furry.

Reuters published a fact check in July that said there is “no evidence of them disrupting classrooms or schools developing a policy of including them as a formal identity.”

Ganahl faces incumbent and out gay Gov. Jared Polis (D) in the general election this fall.

Not even its biggest donors will be safe from GOP retribution in the next Congress

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