INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WEHT) – An education bill making its way through the Indiana General Assembly is addressing school dress codes. It is also causing some confusion. Some of that confusion revolves around furries, or supposed students who dress like animals.
“Essentially what this means for school corporations is,” says Republican Senator Jeff Raatz of Indiana’s 27th district, “through dress code, you have the ability to drive how students dress.”
Senator Raatz is the author of Senate Bill 380, and wants to remind school districts they have the authority to adopt dress codes that reduce potential distractions. During testimony at an Education Committee hearing in Indianapolis, Senator Raatz described “furries” as a possible disruption.
“Essentially there have been some complaints brought to me by some schools, as a school corporation, and then some parents, about students dressing inappropriately,” says Sen. Raatz. “When I say that, they may be imitating or behaving like a furry. I think we’ve all heard of that terminology.”
Furries, like Senator Raatz references, do exist. However this problem does not appear to exist in area schools. In September of last year, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation Chief Communication Officer Jason Wobkenberg debunked claims that students were dressing as or identifying as animals. Responding to the introduction of Senate Bill 380, the EVSC released the following statement to Eyewitness News:
“There has been absolutely no issue of students identifying as animals or requesting litter boxes in our school restrooms. It is disheartening that false reports of such nonsense have been perpetuated by national media and circulated on social media by individuals intent on spreading ridiculous rumors.”
During testimony hearings, Bob Taylor, Executive Director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, was asked if superintendents have received complaints about so-called “furries”.
“There has not been a specific focus to me,” says Taylor. “School dress has always been an issue, whether it was back in the day when skirts got a lot shorter and blue jeans became the rage.”
For some, the bill does not solve a problem. It creates one. Eyewitness News reached out to Democratic representative Ryan Hatfield of Indiana’s 77th district for reaction on this introduced legislation. His statement can be found below.
“This is a distraction from their failed education policies that have left Indiana’s children behind the rest of the nation. While some legislators use their time to audition for bad late night comedies, I prefer to work on serious efforts that improve education for Hoosier children.”