Tell us if you’ve heard this one before, students identifying as cats

A Nebraskan politician has claimed that there are students in the state’s public education system who identify as cats and dogs, and request kitty litter trays to be added to the school’s bathrooms.

Republican state senator Bruce Bostelman brought up the issue during a education debate in the state’s senate which was broadcast live on television. Within hours the gullible politician was issuing an apology after he realised he’d just shared a well documented urban legend.

During the debate Bostelman said, “Schoolchildren dress up as animals — cats or dogs — during the school day; they meow, and they bark,” he said. “And now schools are wanting to put litter boxes in the schools for these children to use.

“How is this sanitary?” he asked, vowing to confront education officials over the situation.

“I even heard from one person here recently who said that a student identified as a cat, and wanted a litter box, and the school didn’t supply the litter box, so the student went ahead and defecated on the floor. Really? Really?” Bostelman asked.

Turns out, no, not really.

Bostelman issued an apology for his remarks and acknowledged that the story wasn’t true.

“It was just something I felt that if this really was happening, we needed to address it and address it quickly,” Bostelman said.

Researchers in the USA say the tale of students identifying as cats can be traced back across the USA to various occurrences over the last 20 years. Recently claims have arisen across the USA in Ohio, Utah, Michigan, Arkansas and Texas. There’s also been claims of cat identifying students in Canada.

The basic story is students are identifying as cats, and some part of the school world is being adjusted for their special needs. Often the claim is that kitty litter boxes are being put in unisex bathrooms, or tables in the cafeteria are being lowered so students can eat like animals.

This week the ABC’s Media Watch cast doubt over a report shared by several Australian media outlets including Sky News, Channel 10 and The Daily Mail.

The Australian report originated in Brisbane’s Courier Mail where Associate Editor Kylie Lang claimed that students at a Brisbane girls school were identifying as cats and foxes and being allowed to cut holes in their uniforms, and not being issued infractions for breaking the school’s uniform policy.

Lang has dismissed suggestions that her report is an urban myth and says she and the paper stand by its accuracy.

Graeme Watson

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