On a recent trip, we found ourselves chatting with a retired principal in West Virginia. At some point, he told us how nuts things were getting. 30 miles away from him, in Louisberg West Virginia, there was a school where they had actually put out a tub of kitty litter to accomodate a six year old boy identifying as a kitty cat.
This story is not true. It has been debunked many times. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). It’s not hard to determine the truth, as there is zero primary evidence that it ever happened or ever would. But, ya know, it really does sound true. There’s a lot of nuttiness in the world. There are over 130,000 K-12 schools in the USA, odds are good that a few of them are going to have some crazy policies. This sound like just the kind of thing you could see some super liberal progressive school enacting. These are the best kinds of lies. Plausible. Just plausible enough to be passed along by those who like the story so much they don’t want to look further.
he Everyone falls for these occasionally. We all want to think we’re smarter than the average bear, but the victims of scams fall equally across every group – political, cultural, socio-economic, and yes educational also, all of it. Heck, the theme of this whole dumb blog is critical thinking, yet I once blithely posted a link asserting John Kerry voters had higher IQs than G.W. Bush voters. (It’s not true.) This ex-principal had fallen for this lie, even though knows the system better than most, and could have found out the truth just by calling around his network. But he didn’t want to.
It’s very hard to fight untruths like this. It doesn’t take much research to see it’s a lie, but it does take some. Some time is more time than most of us want to take. Changing minds is hard.
I simply told the man that although there is a lot of crazy going on around gender, schools, and trans I believed this particular story was a hoax, and he should check it out for himself. “Ignorance fought,” I thought to myself.
The next morning, I mentioned this to my 15-year old daughter, who confidently informed me that it was absolutely true, for sure it happened.
You really can’t win at this game.