A Republican In This State Wants Animal Services To Remove Furries From Schools

Justin Humphrey, an Oklahoma legislator who once said trans people are mentally ill, is pushing a debunked right-wing talking point.

A Republican legislator in Oklahoma who once said that transgender people have “a mental illness” introduced a bill this week that would allow animal services to remove students who identify as furries from school.

The bill, which was pre-filed ahead of Oklahoma’s legislative session, would bar students who “purport to be an imaginary animal or animal species, or who engage in anthropomorphic behavior commonly referred to as furries,” from school activities.

The legislation, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Justin Humphrey, may seem farcical. But the idea that schools accommodate students who identify as animals has its roots in a long-standing — and repeatedly debunked — conservative myth.

Republican legislators and candidates have for years claimed that schools are putting litter boxes in classrooms for students who identify as cats or furries. At least 20 GOP politicians peddled these claims in 2022, and used them as a way to sound the alarm over protections and accommodations for LGBTQ+ students, NBC News reported.

“What’s most provocative about this hoax is how it turns to two key wedge issues for conservatives: educational accommodations and gender nonconformity,” Joan Donovan, a researcher on media and politics at Harvard University, told the outlet at the time.

In reality, there is no evidence of schools making litter boxes available for students who identify as animals. NBC News found one school, in the same Colorado district as Columbine High School, that has kept cat litter on campus for emergency use in the event of a shooting lockdown.

Nonetheless, the myth about cat-identifying students has found its way into Oklahoma politics before. In 2022, Ryan Walters, at the time an ultra-conservative candidate for state school superintendent, promoted the urban legend and told voters he had heard about litter boxes being used in schools. He won his election that fall and is still superintendent in the state.

Oklahoma has been a testing ground for some of the most extreme anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the nation. Last year, the state introduced a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for trans youth and adults up to the age of 26.

This week, Republicans in the state introduced legislation that would allow trans youth to be placed in homes with foster and adoptive parents who don’t support their gender identity, and another bill that would prohibit discussions of gender, sexuality and drag queens from state universities.

And Humphrey, the man behind the bill about animal control in schools, has a long history of introducing extreme and sensational bills.

In 2017, he introduced a bill requiring women to get written consent from the “father of the fetus” before obtaining an abortion. Humphrey told The Intercept at the time that men should have more say over what happens to a fetus and that women are essentially “hosts.”

“I understand that [women] feel like that is their body,” Humphrey said. “I feel like it is a separate ― what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant.”

Last year, Humphrey sponsored a bill to try to reduce Oklahoma’s penalties for cockfighting from a felony to a misdemeanor.

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