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STATESVILLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A unique discussion within Iredell-Statesville Schools has board members considering banning furry costumes.

The proposed changes to the student dress code come after school staff says they’ve been inundated with unsubstantiated rumors about students dressing as animals and putting cat litter boxes in the school bathrooms.

This is a common urban myth that has circulated across many states over the years.

Superintendent Jeff James said he’d spent up to eight hours responding to emails and investigating reports of the social media trend, in which students identify as “furries,” or an animal alter ego.

He says his research indicates all statements were false, and there is no evidence to support that these “furries” are bringing litter boxes to I-SS bathrooms. However, the school board now wants to get ahead of any future issues.

“We’re trying to address it before it becomes a major problem,” said District 1 Board Member Bryan Shoemaker.

In the proposed amendment, students would not be allowed to wear furry costumes or parts of costumes, including ears, tails, gloves, or collars. Spirit weeks and theater productions are noted exceptions.

“You may not want it to be a distraction, but it was a distraction. A large distraction,” said District 5 Board Member Martin Page.

Still, some at Monday’s meeting, like parent Jean Foster, were frustrated with the discussion, saying the board should focus on bigger, more pressing issues like teacher shortages.

“We have classrooms without teachers, and you’re wasting your time focusing on a kid at a Scotts Elementary Panthers basketball game who wants to wear a cat ear headband,” said Foster at Monday night’s school board meeting.

In an interview with Queen City News, Foster further explained her frustration with the dress code discussion.

“We’ve spent a lot of time on masks over the past few years. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about which books we are wanting to ban. All of that is a distraction from what’s important. This was just something else – something ludicrous,” she said.

Monday’s dialogue was just the first reading of the proposed dress code changes. The board will revisit and vote on the issue next month.