A Nebraska The state lawmaker apologized Monday after publicly citing persistent but refuted rumors that schools were putting trash cans in school bathrooms to accommodate children who identify as cats.
State Sen. Bruce Bostelman, a conservative Republican, repeated the false statement during a public televised debate on a bill designed to help school-age children who have behavioral problems. His comments quickly went viral: one video on Twitter garnered more than 300,000 views as of Monday afternoon and sparked a flurry of criticism and ridicule online.
Initially, Bostelman said he was “shocked” to hear stories of children at school dressing up as cats and dogs, and argued that schools place them with trash cans.
“They meow, bark and thus interact with their teachers,” Bostelman said during the legislative debate. “And now schools want to put trash cans in schools so these kids can use them. How is the sanitation here? ”
The rumor persisted in a private Facebook group “Protect the Children of Nebraska” and also appeared last month in Iowa’s school district, forcing the headmaster to write to parents that it was “simply and categorically untrue.”
Bostelman said he plans to discuss the issue with the director general of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. He also argued that schools do not allow children to wear flags, but did not cite specific examples. In 2016, Lincoln County Public School District briefly asked students not to hang American flags from their cars after one flag was removed from its holder, but school authorities later apologized.
The false allegation that children who identify themselves as cats use trash cans in school bathrooms has been circulating on the Internet since at least December, when a public official said so at a meeting of the Midland Public Schools School Board northwest of Detroit.
The allegation was refuted by the head of the district, who issued a statement stating that “there were never rubbish bins in the MES schools.”
However, baseless rumors have spread across the country and become fuel for political candidates amid cultural wars and legislative actions related to gender identification in schools.
Hours after his remarks, Bostelman stepped back and admitted that the story was untrue. He said he had learned of the allegations from State Senator Lynn Wallace, a Democrat who heads the Legislative Education Committee, and confirmed that there had been no such incidents.
“I felt that if this was really happening, we needed to resolve it and resolve it quickly,” Bostelman said.
The furor over public school restrooms is due to the fact that an increasing number of conservative states are pushing for laws that would ban transgender students from using bathrooms that match their gender identity.