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'Furry' costume ban proposed by Iredell-Statesville school board

Iredell-Statesville Schools' board of education says TikTok videos of students dressed as cats leaving litter boxes in bathrooms have prompted the change.

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — The Iredell-Statesville School District may prohibit students from dressing in animal costumes at school events, according to a dress code change proposed by the district's board of education.

On Monday, the Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education met to discuss, among other things, a proposed dress code change that would prohibit students from wearing furry costumes.

If the change goes into effect, students would be prohibited from wearing,  "tails, gloves, ears, and collars," among other items, at school-sponsored events where costumes are permitted.

"We have spirit week at our schools. We have theme-based weeks, such as drama, theatre production, or spirit week [which are] exceptions to this," said Jeff James, Iredell-Statesville Schools Superintendent. "But all clothing worn must follow the school's dress code."

The board explained that this change is being proposed in response to concerned parents contacting administrators and board members about TikTok videos that claim students are bringing litter boxes to schools and identifying as cats. 

PolitiFact, a fact-checking source, has debunked these claims in several states, including North Carolina.

Iredell-Statesville school board members noted that these issues are simply rumors stemming from TikTok amongst students and parents and that this issue is not actually happening at their schools.

"These [rumors] came out last year about the kitty litter boxes in a bathroom, that's not happening," said Martin Page, Iredell-Statesville board of education board member, District 5. "I'm so tired of hearing comments [about this]. These kids are just starting this stuff up... we've just got to quit."

Another board member called on parents to verify sources before spreading misinformation.

"All I ask is that adults that we verify stuff before we click share, or post stuff on social media, I think that's the least we can, can do," said Bryan Shoemaker, Iredell-Statesville board of education board member, District 1. 

Board members iterated that, like all dress code guidelines, this policy could only work if it is fully enforced.

"This has got to be enforced pretty much uniformly," said Doug Knight, Iredell-Statesville board of education board member, District 4. 

Others commented on how teachers and administrators need to do a better job at dressing professionally and setting a standard for students.

"Our adults have to also look at their dress code, and make sure that their dress code is professional," said Samuel Kennington, Iredell-Statesville board of education board member, District 3. "By them setting the example, then I think that will help our students to follow the dress code."

"Sometimes you go in the classroom and it's hard to know who the teacher is because they're dressed just like the children," said Bill Howell, Iredell-Statesville board of education board member, District 2.

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As with a policy change proposal concerning public comments that was brought up in Monday's meeting, the board decided to move on from this topic and pushed a decision on the matter to a future meeting at a date yet to be determined.

The full board meeting can be viewed here.

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