Republican candidate repeats debunked claims about school children self-identifying as animals

Republican candidate for Colorado governor Heidi Ganahl discusses 'furries' in schools during a news interview

A school district has had to reject bizarre claims from a Republican candidate that students are identifying as “furries” in schools across Colorado.

Heidi Ganahl, the Republican candidate for governor of Colorado, alleged during an interview on Jimmy Sengenberger’s KNUS show that students in public schools are self-identifying as animals. 

Ganahl claimed schools are “tolerating” these students, who she referred to as “furries”, and that educational facilities should “stop it”. 

“Not many people know that we have furries in Colorado schools,” she said before asking if Sengenberger had “heard about this story”. 

She continued: “Yeah, kids identifying as cats. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it’s happening all over Colorado and schools are tolerating it.

“It’s insane. What on earth are we doing? Knock it off, schools. Put your foot down. 

“Like, stop it. Let’s get back to teaching basics and not allow this woke ideology, ideological stuff, infiltrate our schools. And it is happening here in Colorado.”

She alleged that she moved from Boulder Valley to Douglas Country four years ago to escape the furries in her “kids’ schools”. 

Republican candidate for Colorado governor Heidi Ganahl discusses 'furries' in schools during a news interview

Heidi Ganahl said she moved her kids out of one school district to escape “furries” in their schools. (YouTube/KRDO NewsChannel 13)

Ganahl doubled down on her comments in an interview with KRDO where she claimed it is a “really weird phenomenon that’s happening in middle schools and high schools”. 

She claimed there were “many” examples of kids identifying as cats in Colorado and said there are “parents” across the “Denver metro area” sharing these stories. 

But in a different interview with KDVR, she alleged that she’d heard testimonials from “over 100 parents identifying 30 different schools that this is happening”. She singled out Jefferson County as the area where “there’s a lot of this going on”. 

Jefferson County Public Schools released a statement disputing Ganahl’s claims, saying there are “no furries or students identifying as such during the school day”. 

“There are no litter boxes in our buildings and students are not allowed to come to school in costume,” the school district added. 

Ganahl will face off against incumbent and openly gay governor Jared Polis in the general election this fall. Polis tweeted that his “opponent is focused on furries” while he is working help kids “get a great education in Colorado”. 

Multiple conservatives claimed there are cases of students identifying as ‘furries’ in classrooms

A Michigan school official came forward in January to deny allegations from a member of the public that there were litter boxes placed in “unisex bathrooms” for students who “identify as cats”. 

Nebraska senator Bruce Bostelman apologised in March after he claimed before the state Senate that schools put litter boxes in bathrooms to accommodate students who “dress up as animals”

Marjorie Taylor Greene spread similar false claims during an interview with the Right Side Broadcasting Network. The anti-LGBTQ+ congresswoman alleged that public schools in places like Texas, Nebraska and Pennsylvania are lowering tables and setting out litter boxes for students who are furries or self-identify as cats. 

“They’re embracing lies, literally embracing lies,” Greene said. “If some student wants to pretend like a cat and use a litter box after school, that’s their prerogative, whatever.”

Courtney Plante, co-founder of the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, also known as Furscience, told Reuters that “furries are fans, just like any other fan group”. 

“Furries are no more likely to think that they’re animals than sport fans are to think that they’re their favourite team’s quarterback,” Plante added. 

Furries are a subculture that can involve people creating an anthropomorphic animal character, known as a fursona, or dressing up as that character. Some people within the community come together to attend conventions or raise money for charitable causes. 

This was highlighted after the furry community came together in February to help a library system that was denied vital funding unless it removed LGBTQ+ books from shelves