The Safer Schools Initiative, a government-backed organization, recently warned teachers and parents not to ridicule or overreact to schoolkids who identify as “Furries” – defined as “a person who dresses up in costume as such a character or uses one as an avatar online.” Those who identify and dress up as an animal deserve our respect, says SSI. Students who adopt “fursonas,” or personalized animal characters-- and who don fur suits or furry costumes-- need to “feel comfortable expressing themselves,” or so says the respected safe-guarding body.
The group, once tasked with dealing with such things as school shootings and kidnappings, has now, thankfully, pivoted to addressing the existential problem of furry ridicule. Its website offers important tips on dealing with the growing numbers of Furries and suggests that one should always approach the child’s interest with “no judgment” and limitless “understanding.” The tips include such gems as, “If a child or young person in your care begins to show an interest in joining any community, be it online or off, how you approach and handle any related conversations is crucial.” And, “It is important to build a safe environment for them based on trust, where they feel comfortable expressing themselves to you.”
Indeed! If a student shows up in a classroom dressed as, say, a skunk, the teacher should welcome and embrace the wannabe rodent. Inclusiveness is next to Godliness! Similarly, if your young person should dress up as a golden retriever before heading out the door to the school bus stop, you should praise his/her/they’s creativity and uniqueness, rather than acting like a right-wing furryphobe! I mean, duh!
The SSI website also notes, “The Furry community is a complex one, made up of many different identities and definitions of what it means to be a ‘furry.’” So true. How many mammals or furry animals are there? And some furries are into weird sexual kink, others not so much. It’s hard to say what branch of the community the 12-year-old standing in front of you clad in a bunny suit identifies with. Best just to say “Que Sera Sera” and let their freak flags fly, honey!
If youngsters wish to identify as the opposite sex-- or as a cat, a dog, a boat, or a moon -- where is the harm? So they all share the same bathroom, locker room, or sports team, what could go wrong?
Also recently, the New York State Education Department and the University of the State of New York (USNY) issued a new “Best Practices” guide for schools, titled: “Creating a Safe, Supportive, and Affirming School Environment for Transgender and Gender Expansive Students.” But, what about species expansive students? What about the Furries? The document also recommends that teachers “continually affirm the student’s self-identity” because “doing otherwise could cause stress and emotional harm.” I mean, if a boy claims to be a girl—or a chipmunk—then she is a girl…or a chipmunk. How could anyone claim otherwise? Pass the menstrual products…or acorns…as the case may be.
The NYSED/USNY document strongly warns against “denial of access” to the locker rooms of other genders. One can assume a soon to be updated version will warn against “denial of access” to the locker rooms and bathrooms of other species.
Perhaps most bizarrely, the document recommends educators draw “equity sticks” (in the form of popsicle sticks) instead of separating groups by boys and girls. Huh?
Actually makes sense, though, when you think of it. There are no such things as boys and girls.
Who wants to identify as a popsicle stick?