ICYMI – NBC: 20+ Politicians Promote Bizarre Claim That Youth Are Identifying as Cats

by Henry Berg-Brousseau

"Claiming that kids are identifying as cats underscores the sickening lengths some politicians will go to rile up the most extreme and dangerous elements of their base"

Reaching a new low in their effort to attack and malign LGBTQ+ kids and their families, at least 20 extremist candidates and elected officials have claimed that schools are making litter boxes available for students who identify as cats. This bizarre lie is meant to call into question school policies related to transgender and nonbinary youth, and the fact that extremist politicians are repeating it demonstrates their cravenness and the power of misinformation and propaganda driving anti-LGBTQ+ attacks.

“Claiming that kids are identifying as cats underscores the sickening lengths some politicians will go to rile up the most extreme and dangerous elements of their base,” said Human Rights Campaign National Campaign Director Geoff Wetrosky. “The attention this freakish lie has received on social media illustrates the pernicious influence of disinformation and that anti-LGBTQ+ politicians will do and say anything to animate the most extreme fringe– no matter the consequence–. The Human Rights Campaign has repeatedly called on social media companies to take responsibility for moderating content on their sites. Their failure to stop the spread of propaganda results in more stigma, discrimination, and violence against LGBTQ+ people, particularly those who are transgender and non-binary.”


“As the number of people identifying as trans and nonbinary has increased in recent years, particularly among young people, so has the amount of anti-LGBTQ legislation from conservative politicians. The spread of rumors about litter boxes has grown alongside other extreme and baseless rhetoric accusing LGBTQ people and educators of “grooming” children through lessons and policies on gender and sexuality. Some politicians issued warnings about children acting as cats during debates regarding school policies related to transgender and nonbinary youth.”

“At least 20 conservative candidates and elected officials have claimed this year that K-12 schools are placing litter boxes on campus or making other accommodations for students who identify as cats, according to an NBC News review of public statements.

Every school district that has been named by those 20 politicians said either to NBC News or in public statements that these claims are untrue. There is no evidence that any school has deployed litter boxes for students to use because they identify as cats.”

“[The fact that it is false] has not stopped such rumors from circulating on social media, where they have been repeated like a game of telephone, often with descriptions of friends of friends who supposedly saw such things firsthand. And it has not stopped some politicians from picking up these claims and using them to alarm people by saying that this is where protections for LGBTQ students will lead.”

“The rise of the litter box rumor shows the power of false claims that start on social media to shape political discourse. And it demonstrates how quickly some elements of truth can be twisted and mashed up with fully debunked assertions to create a viral narrative amplified by prominent politicians, as well as commentators with large audiences.

“It’s only used to kind of sensationalize untruth, and to harm our community, in particular our transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive youth,” said Nadine Bridges, executive director of One Colorado, an LGBTQ rights organization, when asked about the litter box rumors.”


Herschel Walker Suggested Schools Were Teaching Students They Could Identify As Cats.

“So is anyone talking to anyone about it…in these schools, I read they’re teaching our kids how they identify. You can be a girl today. A boy tomorrow. And even a cat. I’m like, have they read the bible?” [Herschel Walker at Women for Herschel, Augusta 9/14/2022]

Lauren Boebert Falsely Claimed Durango Schools Were Putting Out Litter Boxes For Students Who Identify As Cats.

“‘They are putting litter boxes in schools for people who identify as cats,’ Boebert said. ‘Durango is doing this. This is how extreme it is.’” [Colorado Times Recorder, 10/4/22]

Minnesota Gubernatorial Candidate Scott Jensen Falsely Claimed Kids Were Identifying As Cats.

“The Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota repeated last week a bizarre hoax claim which has been debunked that children are being told they can identify as anthropomorphic cats and are being allowed to use litter boxes to urinate in schools. Scott Jensen, the Republican candidate and a former state lawmaker, made the comments while speaking to supporters, according to a video of the event posted on Facebook. ‘But what about education?’ Jensen said. ‘What are we doing to our kids? Why are we telling elementary kids that they get to choose their gender this week? Why do we have litter boxes in some of the school districts so kids can pee in them, because they identify as a furry? We’ve lost our minds. We’ve lost our minds.’” [CNN, 10/3/22]

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


Contact Us

To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email press@hrc.org.