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An anti-LGBTQ+ NBC sports host fell for the furries lie & Twitter came for him

Tony Dungy attends the AIA 2017 Bart Starr Award Super Bowl Breakfast in Houston, Texas on Saturday 4th 2017 February - USA
Tony Dungy attends the AIA 2017 Bart Starr Award Super Bowl Breakfast in Houston, Texas on Saturday 4th 2017 February - USAPhoto: Shutterstock

Former NFL coach and current NBC football analyst Tony Dungy recently found himself at the mercy of Twitter after touting a long-debunked far-right conspiracy theory about students dressing up as animals and using litter boxes at school.

In a since-deleted tweet, the former football coach responded to a post from the right-wing publication The Daily Wire about a Minnesota legislator supporting a bill that would require menstrual products to be placed in boys’ bathrooms at schools.

“That’s nothing,” Dungy responded. “Some school districts are putting litter boxes in the school bathrooms for the students who identify as cats. Very important to address every student’s needs.”

Last year, conservatives from across the country were saying that schools were allowing students to identify as animals, with many of them calling those students “furries.” The urban legend, when told, often included the details that students were using litterboxes – sometimes in classrooms – and that schools were being forced to accommodate these students.

The tall tales led to Republicans naming lists of schools where they said this was going on, with schools being forced to deal with angry phone calls and emails from people who actually believed this story despite the lack of proof.

The 2022 Republican nominee for governor of Colorado, Heidi Ganahl, claimed that 30 schools were accommodating students “identifying as cats.”

Two statewide educational organizations condemned her claims as “exhausting” and “incredibly frustrating,” saying they disrupt learning and stress out teachers who are already overworked.

The claim often came as school districts and state legislatures discussed equal rights for transgender students in schools, which led to comparisons to furries. They compared, for example, a trans girl living as her authentic self to a student wearing a cat costume and defecating in a litter box as a way to promote intolerance of transgender people.

Fellow tweeters roasted Dungy for perpetuating the furries lie.

Outsports writer Cyd Ziegler, who recently released a two-part series examining Dungy’s anti-LGBTQ+ views, tweeted with ire about Dungy’s comment.

Not since Curt Schilling shared an anti-trans image and message years ago have I seen a member of the sports media say something so false, mean-spirited, and cruel as what @TonyDungy shared today. And seemingly directed right at the LGBT community. Cruel.”

More than 100 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have already been proposed this year

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