A Nebraska state senator has apologized for citing during televised floor debate a persistent but debunked rumor alleging that schools are placing litter boxes in school bathrooms to accommodate children who self-identify as cats.
Senator Bruce Bostelman, a conservative Republican from Brainard, was speaking on a bill intended to help school children who have behavioral problems.
Bostelman said he was “shocked” when he heard stories that children were dressing as cats and dogs at schools that were accommodating them with litter boxes.
He said “they meow and they bark and they interact with their teachers in this fashion, and now schools are wanting to put in litter boxes for these children to use. How is this sanitary?”
His comments quickly went viral, with one Twitter video garnering more than 300,000 views as of Monday afternoon.
They also drew an onslaught of online criticism and ridicule, but Bostelman backtracking hours later and acknowledging the story wasn’t true.
He said he checked with Education Committee Chair Senator Lynne Walz and confirmed there were no such incidents anywhere in the country, adding “I felt if this really was happening, we needed to address it and address it quickly.”
The rumor has spread across the internet since at least December, when it came up at a Detroit-area school board meeting. The district superintendent debunked it, but it spread across the country as part of the gender identification debate.
It’s persisted here in the private Facebook group “Protect Nebraska Children” and surfaced again last month in an Iowa school district.