“Furries in Schools” Hoax Map documents a moral panic to attack LGBT people by proxy.

by Patch O'Furr

False reports about students “identifying as animals” and demanding unusual accommodations are like a resurrection of the 1980’s Satanic Panic. The public is being targeted with a wave of misinformation and greedy grabbing for views, at the expense of furry fans, public education, and LGBTQ people in general.

What better way to face bullying than to document it, and connect debunkers outside the community to watchdogs inside? Responsible journalists, take note!

Here’s a new resource from Troj, a furry fan, psychologist and researcher from Colorado: “I started making a map of school boards and regions that have courted the “litter box” myth and related urban legends about furries.” (They’re mainly American myths, but even reach Australia.)

Each point on the map has a note with details (check them for links to sources), and date of media coverage or earliest mention of a given urban legend. Similar myths are roughly grouped by color. They keep coming: at date of writing, one in North Carolina is too fresh to appear yet.

Troj sometimes collaborates with the Furscience data study group, but this isn’t anyone else’s endeavour, it’s personal curiosity. Troj explains:

“After coming across a flurry of social media posts and news articles about the urban myth, I was interested to see where it was popping up, when it first emerged, and how it appeared to be traveling, and thought of using the map to try to get a sense of any path or pattern. There is definitely a transphobic thread here that is VERY, VERY INTENTIONAL.

Look at all the huffing and puffing about children “identifying as” animals, and look at the way people are talking about the schools accommodating them. Also, that people (erroneously and foolishly) believe that the schools would conceal/lie about extending accommodations to a group of students — this seems ridiculous on its face — but makes sense when you realize these same people are outraged by even the possibility that a teacher or other adult might conceal a child’s “coming out” from the parents, usually for the child’s privacy and safety from backlash.

This is being peddled very intentionally and knowingly by conservatives who either know it’s bullshit, or really don’t care, as it allows them to sow hysteria and hatred against LGBTQ people (including kids) and their families.”

Troj’s map coincides with high-charting sales and marketing for a book by far-right propagandist Matt Walsh. It echoes these myths and shows that loud liars aren’t just peddling political hate, they’re milking their gullible base for cash to raise careers. It’s as forced and strategic as any other campaign to demonize whole groups for gain.

Why shouldn’t people make fun of furries though? How is a fandom like an identity? Because it’s not for fun, it’s using an “acceptable” proxy to shield the agenda. Attackers are setting up dominos with the same old revanchist hate against minority groups and civil rights down the line.

Troj is just a dinosaur with a pet project, but has a serious message about community good on the scales:

“On top of conflating and confusing furries, therians, and otherkin — in addition to employing this obvious urban myth as a wedge to attack trans kids and adults (and the rest of the queer community) — I fear the potential fallout on geeky, awkward, and neurodivergent kids who may be targeted by both peers and adults in the wake of these legends. If the kid who wears cat ears and Naruto-runs through the halls is perceived as not just a garden-variety oddball, but even more, an agent of the “culture war”; imagine how that child might be treated not just by their peers who’ve heard the rumors, but by the hysterical adults who’ve believed them! That’s what worries me. I’ve seen people make some quite unhinged, very worrisome comments on forums about what needs to be done “to” or “about” these “furry children.”

If you actually talk to the targets, it’s hard to demonize them as threatening monsters but simultaneously helpless victims who need authority to clamp down. They look like creative thinkers on successful college paths. Right wingers, leave those kids alone.

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