A false social media-driven narrative about gender identity in the U.S. has crossed the border. It amplified to a point where Renfrew County’s two school boards had to do damage control.
Both the public and Catholic school boards issued a joint statement recently to say that they do not put litter boxes in schools for kids who identify as “animals.”
Renfrew County District School Board spokesperson Hannah MacMillan said school administrators and secretaries were starting to get complaints from the public about litter boxes, so the board felt issuing a statement was necessary.
So why is the silly story gaining traction? It’s linked to the culture war south of the border. An NBC news story published last week said that Republicans have been spreading false rumours about litter boxes and about kids being able to say they identify as different animals. They’re trying to suggest that discussions in schools about gender identity are going too far.
The statement issued by the Renfrew boards assures that they do not collect any data regarding animal identity for students and do not recognize such identities.
MacMillan says other school boards in the province are issuing statements to stop the false rumour. She says it’s a warning that disinformation is a serious problem that’s not going away soon.
MacMillan says the incident is a learning moment. In an email she points out that today “anyone can have a digital platform, regardless of their qualifications or intent.” She adds that it’s a reminder that people should do their “due-diligence when sharing information of any kind.”