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Courier Mail claims Brisbane school has cat-identifying students

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Queensland’s Courier Mail claims there is a private school in Brisbane which has several students who insist on identifying as cats.

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In an article listed as ‘opinion’, Associate Editor Kylie Lang shares that multiple unrelated sources have confirmed to her that Brisbane Girls Grammar School has several students who have chosen to self-identify as cats, as well as a few who claim to be foxes.

The story has strong similarities to a well documented urban myth, but the author is standing by the report and claims it is true.

Lang shared that she had spoken to several parents who had voiced concerns about the students who reportedly insist on walking with their arms hunched forward to create the appearance of walking on all fours.

One parent is said to have shared a story about a student who had cut a slit in her school uniform to allow for her tail. Lang shared with the newspaper’s readers that she had also spoken to a “school insider” who was concerned that the student had not been given an infringement notice for the uniform violation.

The article said the concern was not about students playing a game, or using fun filters on their mobile phones, but a group of students who genuinely believed they were felines and foxes. The author attributed the outbreak to us living in a “time of gender fluidity and woke sensibility”.

Lang said she had become aware of the situation at the school after being told of it being a topic of discussion at a recent dinner party between concerned parents.

The article also makes a distinct claim that the students pretending to be cats and foxes are not part of the sub-culture of ‘furries’, but youngsters who hold genuine beliefs that they are really cats and foxes.

The online version of the article is accompanied by a video clip of a concerned parent who said they were “really disturbed” after hearing litter boxes were being provided to students who identified as “furries”. Also embedded in the article is a clip of Sky News presenter Cory Bernardi rallying against Netflix’s comedy dating program Sexy Beasts. 

The report also includes quotes from psychologists, who outline that there are rare cases where children go through periods of identifying as animals, and a statement from the school who say they’ve never encountered any of the alleged cats or foxes.

A spokesperson for principal Jacinda Euler said the school “has not been made aware of any students who identify as furries” and would not comment further.

After OUTinPerth contacted the newspaper and highlighted that its details had strong similarities to a well documented urban myth, Lang said she stood by the report.

“I stand by everything I write, and so does our newspaper.” Lang said.

Let’s break it down

In her reporting Lang says she heard about the existence of the cat and fox identifying students from multiple sources, but she does not appear to have spoken directly to any parents of a ‘trans-species’ child, and the school says they’ve never heard of any of their students claiming to be cats or foxes.

Psychologists say the phenomena is extremely rare. In the article Michael Carr-Gregg notes that he’s only come across one case of an adolescent temporarily identifying as an animal in his 25 years of clinical practice. It was a case of a reaction to severe psychological stress and as soon as the child was treated the behaviour ceased.

Queensland psychologist Judith Locke is quoted saying it could be a natural, but unusual, stage of development, and unless is was causing problems or is prolonged it should not be of concern to parents.

What about that video of the concerned parent claiming bathrooms now have litter trays?

The clip is not from Australia. It is from a school board meeting held in Detroit, Michigan USA, and it was shown to be a false claim months ago.

On December 20th 2021 concerned parent Lisa Hansen addressed the meeting and told district administrators that she’d heard rumours that a school in the region had started installing kitty litter boxes in bathrooms due to the increasing number of students identifying as cats. Hansen said the litter box was located in a unisex bathroom.

Hansen claimed it was a “nefarious” practice was part of a nationwide “agenda being pushed” within the US education system. The video of her claim was posted online by Michigan Republican Party co-chair Meshawn Maddock who called for ‘parent heroes to take back the schools.’

With a few hours Michael E. Sharrow, the superintendent for Midland Public Schools, issued a statement that debunked the claims.

“It is unconscionable that this afternoon I am sending this communication, however, our Midland PS stakeholders may be confused about a false message/accusation that has resurfaced this week and is gaining traction in the social media realm,” Sharrow said.

“Let me be clear in this communication. There have never been litter boxes within MPS schools.”

Yes, The Courier Mail is running a video above its report that we already know has no basis in truth.

The educators in Detroit are not alone in having to hose down rumours of schools having outbreaks of cat identifying students, or litter boxes added to their bathrooms. The story has popped up in different locations at least five times in the last year.

On March 12th the principal of Sky View High School which is located near the border of Idaho and Utah had to make a public statement confirming there was no truth to the rumour their school had installed kitty litter facilities for students.

“I’ve heard the rumor that there are litter boxes in the bathrooms and all this stuff. That is not true whatsoever, and I’ll be done with this job if we ever start putting litter boxes in restrooms,” Sky View Principal Mike Monson said on Monday. His comments were reported by the Idaho State Journal.

The Director of the teachers union characterised the rumors as an attempt to mock restroom accommodations for transgender students.

“It’s absurd, and it’s mean-spirited, and it is absolutely not the focus we should be having right now,” Iowa State Education Association Director Mary Jane Cobb was quoted as saying.

In February The Carroll Community School District in Iowa also sent a message to parents saying rumours of them accommodating students identifiying as cats, and adding kitty litter boxes to bathrooms were not true.

Last October the Twin Falls School District (TFSD) in Idaho issued a statement denying there was a group of disruptive cat-identifying students at any of their facilities.

“None of the TFSD schools have experienced students coming to them with claims of identifying as animals. Nor have any building administrators heard from teachers that students are being disruptive during class due to identifying as an animal.” Superintendent Brady Dickinson told radio station KLIX.

In October 2021 the Public Schools Branch on King Edward Island in Canada also issued a statement denying their schools had a growing number of cat-identifying students and kitty litter trays in bathrooms.

Norbert Carpenter, the Director of the Public Schools branch, said his office had been forced to deal with messages claiming the hoax was true for many months.

“This claim as well as many others are simply false and are causing unnecessary stress to students and staff.” Carpenter said.

On Wednesday in the Herald Journal University of Utah folklore department head Lynne McNeil said the litter box rumour, and stories of students self-identifying as cats, go back to the early 2000s in some parts of the USA.

“This is absolutely bunk, but it just so perfectly touches on the nerves that are exposed right now about issues of young children and gender identity and school regulations and all of this that it really articulates the moment really really well,” McNeill said.

There are several more cases of claims of students identifying as cats that have appeared in recent years.

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Sky News commentator Leisa Goddard claims to know of schools with cat students too

Concern about Cat identifying students in Australian schools has come up before. Last year Sky News commentator Leisa Goddard shared that she’d heard of a school where it was occurring, saying there were cat identifying students across a range of ages.

Appearing on Hardgrave, the journalist and public relations specialist, shared her thoughts on a proposal from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to allow a wider range of descriptors for gender in the 2025 census.

“It comes by fact of what’s being taught in classrooms and what’s being accepted in schools. I can give you an example of a school where you have got students there in a high school who, forget the ‘I identify as a ‘they’ or ‘my pronouns are going to be different’ – fine. They identify as cats.” Goddard claimed.

“Cats?” responded host Gary Hardgrave.

“Cats!” confirmed Goddard. “So you’ve got, at a fairly well-known school, you’ve got students, in different grades, who are identifying as cats.”

Goddard said people should be concerned about how students identifying as cats would affect the next Australian census.

OUTinPerth asked Goodard if she could share more information on the school with all the cat students, but she never replied. Her comments were however embraced by Binary, the organisation that campaigns against transgender people.

What about a teacher who was fired for refusing to ‘meow’ at a cat identifying student?

In January a clip on TikTok featured a substitute teacher sharing a story of being fired from her role because she’d refused to recognise a young student who identified as a cat. The video quickly spread across Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Telegram and other social media platforms.

The teacher shared that she’d come across a student who was responding by saying “meow” during the morning roll call, but because she refused to “meow” back at the young boy she was asked to leave.

The story was picked up by many news outlets including Post Millennial, Christianity Daily and Citizen Free Press.

A few days later the video poster revealed that the claim was totally fake, and she’d posted it to show how people will latch on to any ridiculous claim and share it with their friends.

US politician says laws are needed to stop students identifying as animals

Last year US politician Mary Bentley (Republican) introduced a bill into the Arkansas legislature that proposed laws which would bar publicly funded schools, colleges and universities from requiring teachers to use students preferred names and pronouns, if they differed from their biological sex.

Bentley said she’d never heard of it being an issue in the state, but she had heard of it occurring in other jurisdictions. She also claimed more action was needed by lawmakers to protect gender including claims that there was a growing number of young people identifying as cats.

“We have a real issue in our state, and I need our districts to take a look at this and do more than this bill does,” Bentley said in 2021. “This bill is just a first step to help protect our teachers, but when we have students in school now that don’t identify as a boy or a girl but as a cat, as a furry, we have issues.”

Her bill has not been passed at this stage, and is currently being reviewed by the state’s Education Committee.

Wasn’t there a University bringing in compulsory cat pronouns?

In February there were wide spread media reports claiming that Bristol University in the United Kingdom was encouraging staff to create a culture where ‘neopronouns’ based on emojis and people self-identifying as cats would be accepted as normal.

The reports claimed the university’s Using Pronouns at Work Guidance warned that the “repeated and deliberate” use of the incorrect pronoun for staff who believe themselves to be transgender or non-binary could result in disciplinary action.

The suggestion that cat pronouns should be considered was not however in the university’s guide.

“We have a guide on our website which is designed to help people understand the different variations and nuances that this covers. This linked to an external LGBTA Wiki page with further information, which in turn links to a separate page on catgender.” a spokesperson told Newsweek

The spokesperson painfully pointed out that because the university links to a website it doesn’t automatically mean the university endorses the content of that website, or any other websites that may be linked to the first website.

“These external links are not official university guidance and we are disappointed that it has been reported as such. With this in mind, we have now removed this link and apologise for the confusion caused.” the spokesperson said.

Graeme Watson

OUTinPerth has contacted Brisbane Girls Grammar School for further comment. 


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