Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Furry Panic. Yes, Furry Panic.

Add to the list of school-related panics a panic over furry students. Specifically, a panic over schools making special accommodations for students who like to dress up and take on characters of life-sized fluffy animals. Kelly Weill at Daily Beast has been collecting the stories.

In York, PA, a concerned parents Facebook group warned that furries "could be in your child's classroom hissing at your child and licking themselves." 

In Michigan, a speaker at a school board meeting said, "Yesterday I heard that at least one of our schools in our town, has in one of the unisex bathrooms a litter box for the kids that identify as cats, And I am really disturbed by that.” Michigan GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock picked that up and ran with it on Facebook. "Kids who identify as ‘furries’ get a litter box in the school bathroom. Parent heroes will TAKE BACK our schools."

In Texas, a Moms for Liberty activist tweeted "Cafeteria tables are being lowered in certain @RoundRockISD middle and high schools to allow ‘furries’ to more easily eat without utensils or their hands (ie, like a dog eats from a bowl)."

Bloggers in Idaho and Iowa have repeated the stories, adding that furry students didn't have to do homework (paws can't hold pencils), based on what they'd heard from people at the county fair.

Just to be clear--none of these furry tales are true. It would be easy to just dismiss all of this furry panic and make jokes about the people freaking out, but there are two things to take away from this, and I think they're important.

First, these stories indicate just how low the level of trust has become among some members of the public. If you hear these furry stories and your first reaction is not, "That's ridiculous. There's no way that could be true," then you have traveled far down a dark rabbit hole. These panic attacks are a measure of how effective the steady drumbeat of "You can't trust those evil schools and teachers. They're just out to indoctrinate your children" has been. 

Second, it's worth noting the nature of the outrage, because similar issues inform other panics in schools these days. The panic trigger, specifically, is that the schools have accommodated these "abnormal" students. It's not hard to imagine some parents saying, "Look, I have nothing against furries. I don't have an anti-furry bone in my body. But if they want to be in our schools, they need to adapt and act like our other students--you know, normal." 

This, in both schools and society, is the panic trigger for so many people. It's okay for Those People to be different, but our institutions should remain fixed and centered on Us. When we start adapting to fit or accommodate or acknowledge Those People, then that's just wrong. That's the argument too many times. 

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