Speed Reads

Flunking the smell test

Michigan superintendent debunks GOP-spread rumor of student 'furries' using school bathroom 'litter boxes'

Michael Sharrow, the superintendent of Michigan's Midland Public Schools, informed parents last Thursday that there are no litter boxes on school grounds for students who identify as "cats" or "furries." "It is unconscionable that this afternoon I am sending this communication," he wrote. "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."

The idea that public schools in the district, about two hours northwest of Detroit, gave litter boxes to animal cosplayers appears to have come from video of a school board meeting, posted on Facebook by Meshawn Maddock, a chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, The New York Times reported Sunday. "Kids who identify as 'furries' get a litter box in the school bathroom," Maddock wrote above the video, tying it to the leitmotif of her social media posts, that angry moms will put Republicans in power. "Parent heroes will TAKE BACK our schools."

The video shows a woman named Lisa Hansen telling school board members last month she "was stunned" when someone told her that litter boxes had been added to school "unisex bathrooms" for students who "identify as cats." She added that now she is "a lot bit upset" and even "furious" about the litter boxes, calling it part of an "agenda that is being pushed through our schools is — just my opinion — but somewhat nefarious when it comes to some of the activities." 

"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," Hansen added. 

"There is no truth whatsoever to this false statement/accusation!" Sharrow wrote Midland parents. "There have never been litter boxes within MPS schools." He urged parents to contact him if they hear rumors like this again, adding, "It is such a source of disappointment that I felt the necessity to communicate this message to you."