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GOP Lawmaker Retracts Claim Students Were Self-Identifying as Cats

State Sen. Bostelman

The state senator repeated the rumor during a televised debate before backtracking hours later. 


A state senator in Nebraska has apologized earlier this week after he cited a debunked rumor that alleges schools are putting litter boxes in bathrooms for children who are identifying as cats. The rumors have been circulating across the country as gender identification in schools continues to be targeted by Republican lawmakers.

Republican State Sen. Bruce Bostelman, repeated the rumor in a televised debate over a bill to help children living with behavioral problems, the Associated Press reports.

The lawmaker's comments quickly took off on social media. A viral video of him repeating the claim received more than 825,000 views as of Thursday morning.

"They meow and they bark and they interact with their teachers in this fashion," Bostelman said. "And now schools are wanting to put litter boxes in the schools for these children to use. How is this sanitary?"

Bostelman said he was "shocked" when he first heard the stories that schools were giving students litter boxes.

The claim is related to GOP-led panic over public school restrooms with states passing laws banning trans students from going to the restroom that matches their gender identity.

The reporter who posted the video, Jon Kipper, tweeted that similar claims have popped up in other parts of the country as well.

Kipper later wrote that the incident "shows how easy is it for lawmakers to believe this stuff, when they, above most people, have the power to get school leaders on the phone [and] check."

The rumor appeared in Iowa last month as well, according to the AP, resulting in school officials writing to parents that the claims weren't true.

"The false claim that children who identify as cats are using litter boxes in school bathrooms has spread across the internet since at least December when a member of the public brought it up at a school board meeting for Midland Public Schools northwest of Detroit," the news wire reports. "The claim was debunked by the district's superintendent, who issued a statement that said there had 'never been litter boxes within MPS schools.'"

A few hours later Bostelman acknowledged the rumor was not true after consulting with state Sen. Lynne Walz, a Democrat and the chair of the legislature's education committee.

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

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