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This video from Not the Bee, a somewhat popular American right-wing news site, claims, (quoted from YouTube's transcript, with punctuation added for readability and emphasis added to show the claim I'm asking about)

it it started off as the little girls and boys who just wanted to wear tutus and fireman's boots to school just to show their friends because it was too cool, and now it has progressed to at least one in every three kids is wearing ears and a tail and is probably meowing or barking at you from the other side of the class[.] I just find it funny because first we had women wanting the same rights as pew pews and now we have people behaving like animals

Is the claim that at least a third of students (presumably referring to American, or perhaps specifically Oklahoman given the topic of the video, public school students) regularly wear animal costumes to school true?

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  • I'm not even sure what the claim is. Is it saying that at least 1/3 of public school students across the board dress up like an animal every day? Or is it saying that that many students have ever dressed like that at school? The latter is not particularly controversial considering how many schools (especially at the elementary level) do Halloween parades and spirit days, plus the frequently eccentric nature of "normal" clothing for young kids (search for "animal hoodie").
    – Laurel
    Jan 23 at 18:56
  • @Laurel I think the video is claiming that they do it regularly, because I doubt anyone would object to it on the occasions that you mentioned. I edited the question.
    – Someone
    Jan 23 at 18:58
  • You "doubt that anyone would object..." Have you not noticed today's right-wing outrage machine?
    – user8356
    Feb 5 at 19:15
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    @user8356 while there are some people who would just take it as an excuse to be outraged, I think there's a general social understanding that it's normal for students to wear costumes on certain occasions, while it is at least atypical for them to do it regularly. "anyone" wasn't the best word, because I'm sure there are at least a few, but I doubt "students are wearing costumes on Halloween!" would get any significant traction, while "students are wearing costumes all the time" does.
    – Someone
    Feb 5 at 19:28

1 Answer 1

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This is a continuation of a baseless urban myth.

Wikipedia has a complete history of the Litter boxes in schools hoax, with multiple debunkings.

Starting in 2021, a false rumor alleged that certain North American schools were providing litter boxes in bathrooms for students who "identify as cats", or who participate in the furry or otherkin subcultures. Various American conservative and far-right politicians and media personalities promoted the hoax in response to several school districts enacting protections for transgender students. Many news outlets, fact-checking websites, and academic researchers have debunked such claims, and officials from every school named by those promoting the hoax have verified that the accusations are false. The claims have been described as internet trolling, fearmongering, and anti-transgender rhetoric.

The claimant, "MallyMouse", admits this litterbox rumour "might not have been true", but then goes on to insists that "this" definitely is - and goes on to claim that children may be rounded up by animal control... but the lawmaker himself admits his bill is based on the the litterbox issue and the language is sarcastic.

Rolling Stone explains:

Humphrey tells Rolling Stone he was inspired to write the bill after hearing several reports of students disrupting school while engaging in animal-like behavior. He cites two such alleged incidents in which a grandchild of a friend took to crawling down the hallway while wearing a leash, and another where a student distracted classmates by meowing like a cat. He seemed most concerned, however, with the idea of students requesting litter boxes in the classroom, a favored talking point among right-wing politicians that has been debunked.

[...]

As for the whole animal control thing? The representative admits that it’s a bit of a joke. “If a dog showed up at school, you call animal control. And if you want to treat these people as actual animals, you call animal control. I’ll be happy to rewrite the language [to replace ‘animal control’ with mental health professionals]. But right now, I put that in there to make the point. A sarcastic point.”

So, we have a joke bill, to solve a mythical litterbox problem (that MallyMouse knows is false) and one or two unofficial anecdotes.

She has used hyberbole to exaggerate the (non-existent or almost non-existent) issue. If the schoolchildren were really commonly dressing as animals, schools would not be denying the existence of furries and it would be an obvious phenomenon to anyone who walked past a schoolyard at recess.

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    Making "A sarcastic point" in an actual legal bill is like using slurs "Ironically" -- nobody who it affects is likely to assume you're acting in good faith, and sooner or later the "sarcastic" bit will be used by some bigoted asshole who now has the cover of legality because you just had to try to be funny.
    – Shadur
    Jan 24 at 5:43
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    @Shadur: My reading is he doesn't intend the law to be passed. Animal Control would not have the facilities and training, and would be forced to refuse to take any action children for fear of child abuse charges. He is using as a "dog whistle" to his constituents to "virtue signal" his disdain for transgender issues.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 24 at 7:44
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    Which is arguably an even worse reason to write a law. But that's beyond the scope of this site, I admit.
    – Shadur
    Jan 24 at 9:13

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