What are ‘furries?’ Debunking myths about kids identifying as animals, and litter boxes in schools

via theconversation.com

From abortion to book banscritical race theory and transgender rights, much political rhetoric in the run-up to the mid-term elections in the United States has centered around “culture war” issues.

One of the most recent examples involves a relatively unknown community.

It feels like everyone has an opinion, or heard a rumour, about kids dressing up as animals, calling themselves furries and demanding litter boxes. Harmful misinformation about furries is running rampant on social media and even being promoted to some school boards.

However, misunderstanding furries was mainstream long before it became political. Prior to the litter box rumours, furries were seen as sexual deviants — an idea that was reinforced by popular media that emphasized the sensational over facts.

If your knowledge of furries comes mostly from television or social media, then what you’ve heard about furries is probably wrong. It’s not your fault — the misinformation is pervasive. I’m not a furry, and I once held erroneous views of furries, too. However, after years of research, information is now available to help correct the record.

I’m a co-founder of the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, also known as Furscience. We’re a small group of interdisciplinary professors who have studied furries and other fan groups for more than 15 years.