(NEXSTAR) – Nebraska State Sen. Bruce Bostelman has backtracked on claims he made that schools were providing students with litter boxes in bathrooms — an echo of previously discredited rumors made by other Republican lawmakers back in January related to “furries.”
“Schoolchildren dress up as animals — cats or dogs — during the school day; they meow, and they bark,” Bostelman said in a state meeting Monday. “And now schools are wanting to put litter boxes in the schools for these children to use. How is this sanitary?”
But Bostelman walked back the comments just hours later, the Associated Press reports. In January, GOP leaders in Michigan and Nebraska furthered social media rumors that schools were putting litter boxes in bathrooms for students who identify as cats. The schools in those areas have debunked the posts but similar rumors in other states have persisted, The Washington Post reported.
A video clip of Bostelman’s recent comments had been viewed over 725,000 times as of Tuesday afternoon.
“It was just something I felt that if this was really happening, we needed to address it quickly,” he said, claiming that someone told him a child defecated on a floor after being denied a litter box. Bostelman did not immediately respond to WaPo’s request for comment.
Nebraska school representatives fully denied Bostelman’s claims, calling them “ridiculous.”
What is a “furry”?
“Furries” are people with an interest in anthropomorphized animals. Despite widespread belief, identifying as a furry isn’t necessarily tied to a sexual fetish.
People who identify as furries may not always dress in animal costumes either, as is often believed. According to a recent study, only 26.4% of attendees at a 2007 convention told the International Anthropomorphic Research Project that they own a fur suit, and only 30% said they’d worn one. Furries who wear suits, meanwhile, are known as “fur-suiters,” Vox writer Dylan Matthews explains.
Generally, furries are people who enjoy cartoon animals like Bugs Bunny or Winnie the Pooh, according to 2019 research published by the National Library of Medicine.
While sexual/pornographic subcultures exist within furry communities, they aren’t the majority, and male furries tend to participate more in these areas than women, according to research.