A New Hampshire school has rebuked the Republican US Senate candidate Don Bolduc for claiming schoolchildren were identifying as “furries and fuzzies” in classrooms, using litter trays and licking themselves and each other.
“I wish I was making it up,” Bolduc, a retired special forces general, said last week.
In response, Pinkerton Academy, in Derry, said Bolduc was indeed making it up.
On social media on Monday, the school said: “It has come to our attention that at a recent event in Claremont Don Bolduc named Pinkerton in false claims suggesting that unhygienic, disturbing practices are taking place in our classrooms and spaces on campus.
“We want to assure our community that Mr Bolduc’s statements are entirely untrue. We invite all political candidates to speak with members of our administration or visit our campus so they can inform themselves about our school before making claims about what occurs here.”
A week before election day, the Trump-aligned, conspiracy-spouting Bolduc trails the incumbent Democrat, Maggie Hassan, by around four points.
CNN reported his claims about schoolchildren, citing audio obtained from an attendee at an event last Thursday. It said Bolduc also made the claim on a radio show. Bolduc did not comment.
In the audio, Bolduc said: “Guess what? We have furries and fuzzies in classrooms. They lick themselves, they’re cats. When they don’t like something, they hiss – people walk down the hallway and jump out.
“And get this, get this. They’re putting litter boxes, right? … These are the same people that are concerned about spreading germs. Yet they let children lick themselves and then touch everything. And they’re starting to lick each other.”
Merriam-Webster.com defines a furry as “a person who identifies with and enjoys dressing as an animal especially as a member of a subculture devoted to the practice”.
Bolduc’s claim, however, was a repetition of a persistent rightwing trope tied to opposition to children identifying as transgender or being taught about transgender rights, and widely dismissed by fact checkers.
Last month, NBC News reported: “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 … 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.”
Nadine Bridges, executive director of One Colorado, an LGBTQ+ group, told NBC the litter-box claim was “only used to kind of sensationalise untruth, and to harm our community, in particular our transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive youth.
“Why would you attack our most vulnerable to get your point across, especially since the point is baseless?”
One Colorado school district has reported the use of cat litter. Some schools in Jefferson county use it for “Emergency Go Buckets”, to allow pupils and teachers to use the toilet during lengthy lock downs when a threat is perceived or confirmed.
The Jefferson county school district includes Columbine high school, where in 1999 two teenaged boys murdered 13 people.