If Republicans have a knack for one thing, it’s turning the tide of public opinion against marginalized groups—or at least, trying to do so and, sadly, making headway with their voter base just in time for midterm elections while they’re at it. As Daily Kos continues to cover, we’ve seen conservatives across the nation push a number of anti-queer (and specifically, anti-trans) bills in order to demonize and isolate LGBTQ+ people and allies. Republicans have signed into law nefarious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bills, for example, as well as restrictive and discriminatory bans on access to gender-affirming health care, sports, and even bathroom access.
Trans folks have gotten the brunt of Republican hate, and it’s not slowing down. Thanks in part to the Republican desire to simply distract voters instead of actually serving them, and thanks as well to extremist far-right people and online presences that push conspiracy theories like it’s their job (for some people, it is their job, but I digress), the sheer existence of trans folks has people up in arms. That’s probably why conservatives are tossing trans people into any scenario they can in order to demonize them—and distract from the realities of the situation.
That includes blaming trans people (and furries) for public schools keeping cat litter in the classroom. (Yes, really.)
RELATED: Republicans insist leftists are making kids believe they're cats because the reality is much darker
Republicans are spreading bizarre misinformation about little kids being groomed into using litter boxes instead of the bathroom while at school. As Daily Kos covered recently, for example, a Colorado school district does have cat litter available … in the event of school shootings and lockdowns. And that particular district includes Columbine High School.
Now, in New Hampshire, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc is also claiming little kids in schools are identifying as “furries and fuzzies.” He alleged kids are using litter boxes and licking one another in the classroom, as reported by The Guardian.
Per an audio recording taken by someone who attended the event last week and shared via CNN, Bolduc said the “same people concerned about spreading germs” let children “lick themselves and then touch everything.” He described children “hissing” like cats when they dislike something and jumping out when folks walk down hallways.
He named Pinkerton Academy, located in Derry, New Hampshire, as one of the places where this was allegedly happening. The school patently denied these claims.
“It has come to our attention that at a recent event in Claremont Don Bolduc named Pinkerton in false claims suggesting that unhygienic, disturbing practices are taking place in our classrooms and spaces on campus,” the statement posted to social media on Monday, Oct. 31, says in part. The statement adds that these allegations are “entirely untrue” and that candidates are welcome to visit the school before “making claims” about what happens on campus.
And even still, Bolduc insists his sources are good and he’s not “backing down.”
In the below clip, NBC News journalist Ryan Nobles asks Bolduc about his claims and mentions he heard the audio himself. Bolduc says he was talking about “all the craziness going on in our schools.” He says this is just “one” example and claims he’s had both a parent and a student who were in the audience who came up to him and told him “all about it.” He goes on to say he’s had that happen “all across the state” and then went on to rant about low test scores and remedial courses.
Mobles appears to listen patiently before asking for clarity about the parent who allegedly told Bolduc this was indeed happening. Bolduc said yes, that’s what happened. The journalist says, well, the school said this isn’t actually happening. Bolduc then says the school claims it doesn’t teach “transgender” or “CRT” and says “just because they say it … they need to prove it.”
“I’m not backing down,” he says. “They need to prove it.”
Here is one of the more frustrating and baffling situations to address when it comes to misinformation. How can you prove that something isn’t happening? How can you prove some place or some people aren’t all lying? Bolduc could take that school up on its offer and tour the grounds. Could observe folks teaching. Could look around for litter boxes. But if someone already is all-in on a conspiracy theory, what will ever be enough to change their minds?
Perhaps the chilling—and honest—reminder of why some schools might stock cat litter in classrooms is key. Because, again, this does happen in some very specific situations at some schools in some places in the country! But not because kids are furries. Not because teachers use trans-inclusive language or because trans girls are allowed to play on girls’ sports teams. Not because trans folks are allowed to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.
Some schools stock cat litter because of school shootings. Because of school violence. Because of lockdowns.
Some schools, as Daily Kos recently covered, do keep cat litter as part of an emergency kit in case the school is in lockdown and students need to use the bathroom or clean up vomit. But instead of focusing on the real trauma of gun violence, conservatives take a kernel of truth—cat litter in some classrooms—and turn it into the most overblown and hateful misinformation you can find.
Distraction is the name of the Republican game, and we have to do our very best to make sure we fight misinformation at every turn, all the time, but especially during election season.
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