Toby responds to ‘catgate‘ in his Spectator column this week, saying the phenomenon of children identifying as animals or ‘furries’ is welcome for at least one reason – it proves the need for adults to remember that they’re supposed to educate children, not indulge their fantasies. Here’s an excerpt.
The Department for Education (DfE) is due to publish draft guidance next week advising schools how to deal with the explosion of children identifying as trans and, judging from a sneak preview in the Sun, it looks quite robust. Schools will be banned from helping children change gender without their parents’ consent, no one can be compelled to use a child’s preferred gender pronouns and, for reasons of fairness, trans-identifying pupils won’t be allowed to participate in competitive sport. But there will be nothing in the guidance about how schools should cope with ‘furries’ – children who identify as animals.
My first thought on hearing about this bizarre subculture was that the kids must be doing it to ridicule woke teachers. After all, if the ‘correct’ approach when faced with a child identifying as a member of the opposite sex is to endorse their self-diagnosis, then schools are bound to adopt the same ‘affirmative’ attitude when children identify as cats or dogs. That seems to be the trap the teacher in East Sussex has fallen into.
But was it all an elaborate hoax? A recent story in the Telegraph about ‘furries’ suggests not. It described a sixth former at a school in Wales who claims to identify as a cat. She – or, rather, ‘catself’, since that’s her preferred gender pronoun – answers every question posed to her in lessons by meowing and gets very uppity if a teacher asks her to reply in English. She sounds like another anti-woke prankster, but other examples indicate these children may be in earnest.
For instance, the Telegraph discovered a child in the south-west who insists her teachers treat her as if she’s a dinosaur and a pupil at a secondary school in England who identifies as a horse. Yet another claims to be a moon and cavorts about in a Harry Potter cloak putting curses on classmates. In every case, the schools dutifully ‘respect’ these identities rather than risk accusations of being ‘exclusionary’. As far as I can tell these girls are not budding Titania McGraths. They’ve genuinely gone mad.