School officials deny students attending class in dog and cat costumes

Emotional support tiger Mr. Bo Jangles will be out a lot for Douglas High School's Homecoming celebration.

Emotional support tiger Mr. Bo Jangles will be out a lot for Douglas High School's Homecoming celebration.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

The only full-on cat furry at Douglas High School is Tiger mascot Mr. Bo Jangles and that’s just for special events, school administrators said.

On Tuesday, Douglas County School District officials denied that students are wearing cat and dog costumes in class.

“While we certainly do not know what every teenager identifies as, none of my secondary administrators are reporting that students are walking around dressed as furries,” Superintendent Keith Lewis said on Tuesday in response to a question from The Record-Courier.

A letter appearing in Wednesday’s edition written by Lynn Muzzy indicated there are reports that students are attending class in cat and dog costumes.

“I am not sure exactly what they think they are reporting is happening, as the term “furry” could mean something different to different people,” Lewis said. “It is possible, that a few students have cat ear hairbands. However, the sites have not viewed them as a violation of the dress code.”

School Board candidate Susan Jansen said her impression was that students were wearing ears, tails and painted faces instead of full-on suits.

“While at the Basque Fry event at the Corley Ranch on Aug. 13, two middle school students came up to me at my booth and told me about furries at their school, too,” she said. “I only know what I have been told by others.”

Jansen, Muzzy and others have cited statements made by School Board trustee and candidate Robbe Lehmann as one source of the claim.

Lehmann acknowledged on Friday night that he talked about the issue after a July 5 meeting.

“One of the women asked me about furries,” Lehmann said. “I told them that my own kids have reported that there are some kids at school who wear barrettes with ears attached to them and sometimes like to pretend that they're animals.”

Lehmann said the women originally asked him about furry fetishes, which he said is different from what the children are doing.

“I also told them that, opposed to adults who may be into a "furry" fetish (what the original question was about), in middle-school these are 11- and 12-year-old kids, perhaps looking for attention, and what they're doing is harmless and not in any way sexual,” he said. “It's amusing to me that the people who are making a commotion about this are the same people who say that parents should have the ultimate say over what their kids learn, do, and wear at school. If they truly believe this, they should let the parents of these students address it as they please.”

Lehmann said that if residents without a connection to the schools are worried about something they should come see for themselves.

“This is just another example of people who aren't in our schools and who don't have any connection to our schools being worried about something that isn't an issue or a problem and trying to scare people with outlandish tales.”

All three Douglas County School Board seats are contested in the November election. Incumbents Heather Jackson and Lehman are seeking to retain their seats against Katherine Dickerson and Jansen.

Roberta Butterfield and David Burns are vying for the redistricted seat being vacated by term-limited school board trustee Ross Chichester.

Butterfield defeated Burns in the primary, but not by a sufficient margin to win the race outright.

All six candidates are expected to debate at the Sierra Nevada Republican Women meeting noon Wednesday at the COD Casino in Minden.

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