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Students identifying as furries using litter boxes? Michigan superintendent debunks rumor.

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 1/24/2022 Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY
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A Michigan superintendent said a rumor that a school district has litter boxes on school grounds for students who identify as furries to use the bathroom is false.

The issue was first brought to light at a Dec. 20 school board meeting for Midland Public Schools, around 100 miles northwest of Detroit. At the meeting, parent Lisa Hansen said she was "a lot of bit upset" and "furious" about learning from someone that litter boxes had been added to bathrooms.

"I heard that at least one of our schools in our town, in one of the unisex bathrooms, a litter box for the kids that identify as cats, and I am really disturbed by that," Hansen said. "I'm all for creativity and imagination, but when someone lives in a fantasy world and expects other people to go along with it, I have a problem with that."

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Hansen added that this is an "agenda" being pushed "nationwide."

Hansen's claim of the litter boxes was shared in a Facebook group, which was then shared by Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock on Thursday. She wrote, "Parent heroes will TAKE BACK our schools."

Michael Sharrow, Midland Public Schools superintendent, later took to Facebook on the same day to address the rumor, insisting litter boxes have never been inside any school in the district.

"It is such a source of disappointment that I felt the necessity to communicate this message to you," Sharrow said. "In this divisive/contentious world in which we currently find ourselves, I ask that if you hear wild accusations that don’t sound like something in which your Midland Public Schools Board of Education, Administration, District would be part."

Sharrow added: "Let me be clear in this communication. There is no truth whatsoever to this false statement/accusation! There have never been litter boxes within MPS schools."

A "furry" are people "who have a keen interest in, or even dress up as, anthropomorphic animal characters, like those often seen in comics, games, and cartoons," according to Merriam-Webster

People can dress up simply with animal ears, tails or shirts, while others will have more elaborate costumes. Some will also create a "fursona," when people pick what species they will dress up as and give them "distinct personalities, histories, relationships and attitudes," according to Furscience

Made up by a team of scientists "studying the furry fandom," Furscience says there are a lot of stigmas surrounding furries, as it has been portrayed as a deviant sexual fetish and way of life, often resulting in many of those in the community fearing discrimination of violence.

"If the fandom is about anything, it’s about friendship and community, which makes the mainstream media’s reduction of the fandom to a fetish insulting and categorically and demonstrably inaccurate," the group states. 

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Students identifying as furries using litter boxes? Michigan superintendent debunks rumor.

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