At least three major Republican candidates who accused schools of accommodating students pretending to be animals – often by saying schools were installing litter boxes in the restrooms – have lost their elections.
The urban legend was repeated by conservatives across the country, including local activists, nationally recognized pundits, and elected officials.
But four GOP candidates who accused schools of letting kids use litterboxes instead of toilets lost their elections yesterday, showing that the fringe – and bizarre – falsehood wasn’t enough to get a majority of voters on their side.
New Hampshire U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc
“They’re putting litter boxes,” Don Bolduc said at a campaign event in October. “These are the same people that are concerned about spreading germs. Yet they let children lick themselves and then touch everything. And they’re starting to lick each other.”
He specifically named independent private high school Pinkerton Academy in Derry, New Hampshire as being one of the schools letting kids use litter boxes, an accusation that the school said was “false” and “disturbing.”
He doubled down on the accusation, though, when a reporter told him the school denied it.
“I had a parent and a student in that audience who came up to me and told me all about it,” Bolduc claimed. “I’ve had that all across the state. So I’m only articulating what I heard from Granite Staters, parents and children.”
Bolduc lost to incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH). The AP has declared her the winner with 54% of the vote and 81% of precincts reporting.
Colorado gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl
Speaking in a radio interview in late September, Ganahl said “schools are tolerating” students “identifying as cats.” She said that this is happening in at least 30 school districts “across Colorado” and even went so far as to say that it was happening in her kids’ schools and she was forced to move to another county.
“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 percent of our kids are not performing at grade level,” Ganahl said. “It’s tragic that we are failing our children. We need to make them our priority.”
When pressed, her campaign released a list of 30 schools that were allegedly overrun with student-furries. At least nine of those schools – and two statewide education organizations – called out her lie.
Ganahl’s opponent Gov. Jared Polis (D) was declared the winner of the race early yesterday evening. He currently has a 17-point lead with 80% of precincts reporting.
Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen
Republican and physician Scott Jensen also bought into the myth that kids who say they’re animals are getting accommodations in schools. He said that they’re urinating in litter boxes.
“Why are we telling elementary kids that they get to choose their gender?” he said at a September event in the city of Hutchinson. “Why do we have litter boxes in some of the school districts so kids can pee in them because they identify as ‘a furry’? We’ve lost our minds.”
The AP declared Jensen’s opponent Gov. Tim Walz (D) the winner of the election with 52% of the vote and 95% of precincts reporting.
And Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO)?
Boebert’s election hasn’t been called yet, but she’s behind in the vote count at the time of publication in a close race with 49.4% of the vote and 93% of precincts reporting. Democratic challenger Adam Frisch has 50.6% of the vote so far.
In October, she told the Mesa County Republican Women luncheon that she heard from a father that his kid got in trouble because the kid “stepped on a furry.”
“They are putting litter boxes in schools for people who identify as cats,” Boebert said. “Durango [Colorado] is doing this. This is how extreme it is.”
The Durango School District was forced to put out a statement saying that her statement was “absolutely not true.”
“It’s important that real facts are shared and we appreciate the opportunity to clarify what’s not true,” a spokesperson said.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) may prove to be the exception here. His race has not yet been called; he’s ahead by less than one percent of votes.
While he didn’t bring up the urban legend himself, last month a caller during a tele-town hall event told Johnson that his niece told him that her school had provided litter boxes for students who believe they are cats. Johnson said that he was “well aware of this.”