Bias Watch

Hate pastor claims schools have restroom litter boxes for students who identify as cats

Hank Kunneman
Hank Kunneman Photo: X video screenshot

A Christian nationalist pastor and self-proclaimed “prophet” is spreading the lie that schools are putting litterboxes in bathrooms because “mentally disturbed, demonically possessed” students are identifying as cats. The claim has been repeatedly refuted by school districts and journalists, but right-wingers continue to repeat it as a way to vilify schools with transgender-inclusive policies.

“I have never seen the level of evil that we have today,” said Hank Kunneman — senior pastor of Lord of Hosts Church in Omaha, Nebraska — in a recent sermon. “It’s darkness and it’s gross darkness. Come on. Have you ever seen something so gross, like putting a litter box in the school bathroom because you’re a cat? No, you’re not. You’re mentally disturbed, demonically possessed or oppressed, and you need to get the devil cast out of you.”

“And the goofball administrations need a deliverance session,” he continued. “If 45 [former President Donald Trump] comes back, we need to put deliverance rooms in every single school. March the teachers, come on, come on. School board march through here. Where am I going? Well, you’re about to find out. Here’s the bag. What’s that bag? Because every one of your liberal demons and rhinoceros devils are going to come out.”

Various conservatives have repeated lies about schools recognizing and accommodating students who are “furries” and allowing them to behave like animals in school, but fact-checkers and school districts have repeatedly disavowed such stories as hoaxes.

Such stories are meant to bias people against transgender individuals and against transgender-inclusive school policies, since they mock the idea of living as one’s authentic self and accommodating trans people’s gender identities. These stories have also led to threats against school officials, adding more to their stress and responsibilities.

The lie has since been repeated by numerous right-wing politicians, including media figures like Joe Rogan and Fox News.

In the past, Kunneman has called the Democratic Party “the donkey party of the non-religious affiliation, the anti-Christian movement, the anti-true God movement,” adding, “Now they’ve gone after the children, and you can have some dude dressed up in a wig and call themselves a woman and read to your children. Hell no! Not in my school and not to my kid. I don’t want no pervert, and I don’t want no pedophile in my school, reading to my kids, and I don’t want their curriculum.”

Kunneman has said that God told him that Trump would win the 2020 election. When Trump lost, he said Jesus told him not to apologize for his false prediction, and Kunneman continued to claim that Trump had won, saying that God hates those who criticize him. He has also accused musician Taylor Swift of engaging in “satanic rituals and witchcraft” and said that legal abortion has given demonic spirits the “blood right” to carry out school shootings.

A brief history of right-wingers spreading the cat litter box lie

An early example of the stories about students identifying as house pets and demanding litter boxes came from 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. An Oregon public school district superintendent was also forced to send a similar email after one social media user claimed that furries were wearing leashes and being petted by other students at local schools.

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.

The furry hoax 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, as did Heidi Ganahl, the Republican candidate for governor of Colorado. She claimed that student “furries” are identifying as cats in over 30 different schools in the state.

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.”

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