Shannon Bream, one of Fox News’ top “hard news” journalists, peddled a two-year-old hoax on Thursday that school-age children are identifying as cats, thus forcing educators to give them special treatment and provide litter boxes.
Bream, who took over for Chris Wallace as anchor of Fox News Sunday and is the network’s chief legal correspondent, insisted that “a lot” of parents near where she lives had told her this was happening.
Starting in late 2021 and ramping up ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, GOP politicians and right-wing media reacted to school districts enacting protections for transgender students by fearmongering about “furries” in the classroom. Accordingly, they began promoting a false rumor that certain schools were accommodating students who “identify as cats” by placing litter boxes in the restrooms and classrooms.
Despite the fact that schools accused of this rumor had verified it to be false, and several news outlets and fact-checking sites have debunked the claim, the urban myth persists as the culture war continues to heat up over the teaching of sexuality and gender identity in schools.
Appearing on Fox News’ midday panel show Outnumbered, Bream added her voice to the conservative outrage over a California psychologist and medical school professor who has said that children are identifying as “gender minotaurs” and even “Tootsie Roll pops.” While she has pointed out that she has seen some children use these terms in an American Psychological Association document, Dr. Diane Ehrensaft isn’t actually diagnosing kids with these genders.
“This shows such a disconnect with everyday Americans,” Bream said. “I think you can have conversations and debates over LGBTQ+ issues, and people want to have respectful conversations about that.”
She continued: “But when you tell a kid they can be a Tootsie Pop, where I live in the Washington area I have a lot of Northern Virginia moms who have kids in school who have told me that there are schools who are now having to put litter boxes in for kids who identify as cats.”
Bream added that “most parents at home are like, we have lost the story line here,” claiming that while there are “some legitimate conversations to have,” there will also “be backlash from people who think you have lost it.”
Notably, podcaster Joe Rogan had to walk back a similar claim last November when he asserted on his show that a friend’s wife was a teacher and “had to install a litter box in the girls’ room because there’s a student that’s a furry.” In the end, Rogan admitted that he had no proof to back up his claim and he apologized for feeding into the hoax.