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Claim about litter boxes in New York school is unfounded

April 7, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: Dansville Central School in western New York has put a litter box in a school restroom for students who identify as animals.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. There’s no truth to this claim, according to Dansville Central School District Superintendent Paul Alioto. The same false claim has surged in school districts nationwide in recent weeks, aided by politicians and candidates amid the culture wars and legislative action involving gender identification in schools.

THE FACTS: The same nonsensical claim has lit up parent Facebook groups and school board meetings across the country since December: Schools are accommodating students who enjoy dressing and acting like animals by providing litter boxes for them in school restrooms.

Administrators across dozens of districts, from Michigan to Texas to Wisconsin and New York, have batted down the false narrative, which has been promoted on social media by radio hosts, politicians and pundits who have used it to drum up outrage toward school policies on gender and bathroom use.

Dansville Central School District in Dansville, New York, is among those districts. An Instagram post viewed thousands of times on Thursday falsely claimed “Dansville Central School has put a litter box on the bathroom. A couple of students identify as cats and demanded a litter box. This world is nuts. And this is not a rumor.”

But that’s exactly what it is, according to Aliota, who said, “It is absolutely untrue.”

Aliota said the false narrative likely started spreading in his district after a puddle was found in a school bathroom a few weeks ago.

“Perhaps someone on social media connected the puddle in a bathroom to this social media trend and took it to another level,” Aliota said. “There are so many important issues in the world right now. I just am baffled by anyone’s reactivation with this kind of nonsense.”

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.