Litter boxes in schools – the moral panic of the decade


Matthew Centner, Chief Editor

Every year, society seems to progress in its acceptance of transgender people. But for every two steps we take forward, far-right politicians always knock us a step back. Republicans have already demonized trans kids who want to play sports, and now they’ve moved on to target trans people who want to use the bathrooms that align with their identity. However, they’ve created a new moral dilemma as well: the possibility of litter boxes in schools for students who identify as furries.

According to the Merriem-Webster dictionary, a furry is “a person who identifies with and enjoys dressing as an animal especially as a member of a subculture devoted to the practice.” Being a furry does not necessarily mean that you are transgender; you can be a furry and transgender, or just identify as one of those categories. So why, in this instance, do these categories align with each other?

Because of schools accommodating gender variance throughout the nation. 

For far-right conservatives, these accommodations show signs of a more tolerable society, which, to them, is horrendous. God forbid that schools create a more accepting atmosphere for transgender students by allowing them to use their preferred names, pronouns, and bathrooms—surely that means they’ll start accommodating furries, too, by installing litter boxes in schools and lowering lunch tables so that they may eat without utensils! 

Except this will never happen, and it never has happened. The idea that litter boxes are in schools has spiraled out of control. 

Dozens of politicians have perpetrated false claims that schools not just in the United States, but in Canada as well, are trying to install litter boxes into school bathrooms. The only instance of kitty litter being kept in schools is in Colorado, according to the Times article “Colorado School District Providing Kitty Litter Buckets for Kids to Use the Bathroom During Lockdowns.” The reason that the kitty litter is there–in the district where the Columbine shooting occurred–is because of a real, actual problem in the United States: gun violence in schools. Gun violence is an actual issue, a pressing one that takes lives every day, yet conservatives would rather focus on creating nonexistent problems instead of trying to prevent the unnecessary deaths of children.

Again and again, school districts have faced backlash over problems that only exist in the minds of conservatives. The rumors have been circulating purely to make the LGBTQ+ community look like a joke, targeting transgender individuals specifically. 

Screenshot provided by @beccaturmo on Twitter.

In the screenshot above, various people mention the installation of litter boxes for people who “identify as” cats. Note how they never give any concrete proof of this happening; they only ever hear it from others and do not bother to do any research of their own. Even if they did, they’d quickly find that there is no truth to these claims because these rumors stem from one of the nation’s biggest games of telephone. They would also find that having litter boxes in schools can’t happen because of the health hazard kitty litter poses.

While cat litter is generally harmless, it still contains toxins that float up in the air and can make humans sick. The particles contain toxoplasmosis, which can affect pregnant people in particular. Plus, who would scoop the litter boxes? Who would clean, empty, and replenish them? Not the janitors; they already have too many tasks to deal with. The answer to this hypothetical question – this “moral dilemma” – is that nobody would care for the litter boxes. Therefore, it isn’t possible for them to be implemented into our already-underfunded schools, not to mention that the idea is asinine in the first place.

But of course, conservatives don’t want to consider the logistics behind these claims, because they see trans kids as animals. For years, they’ve been trying to euthanize us as if we’re pests by stripping trans healthcare away under the guise of “saving” us. But we’re too resilient to be put down like animals, so they’ve started to compare us to people who like to roleplay as them. 

Typically, students who identify as furries don’t actually identify as animals. They also don’t tend to deck themselves out in expensive fursuits when going to class; they are already subjected to a lot of bullying just by wearing cat ears and a tail. The existence of furries at school, who are really just kids with a hobby, does not prove the existence of litter boxes at school. 

 Conservatives also fail to consider that by even using a litter box, furries would be bullied horrendously, and that’s not a risk many people dare to take. When you take every factor into consideration, the idea that litter boxes could be in schools is just blatantly false. It’s a lie; that’s all it has ever been. And yet as much as conservatives claim facts over feelings, especially in regards to the science around being transgender, they have regurgitated these rumors so much that “litter boxes are in schools” has become a fact in their minds.