Breaking News
More () »

Carroll schools try to dispel 'damaging' rumors about students identifying as cats

The Carroll Community School District told parents in an email, 'Staff members are not encouraging or accommodating anyone behaving or identifying as a cat.'

CARROLL, Iowa — The Carroll Community School District recently had to put an end to a rumor that it had placed litter box in bathrooms to accommodate student who identify as animals.

According to an email sent by the superintendent and shared with Local 5 by a district parent, that rumor "is simply and emphatically not true."

Superintendent Casey Berlau declined our request for an interview, indicating the district was looking to move past the rumors.

Mike Beranek, president of the Iowa State Education Association, called rumors like this an attack on public education.

"The rumors out on social media are causing a lot of heartache and pain for educators who are already doing all they can to help our students," Beranek said.

He added incidents like this have been happening more often.

"The attacks like this have been stepped up since we have been having conversations about vaccinations and face coverings in our schools," he said. "That seems to have opened the door to allow people to approach school boards and present their thoughts in very negative ways."

It happened in Midland, Michigan after a parent brought up the same claims in a school board meeting. The district eventually had to send a note to parents dispelling those rumors.

RELATED: Iowa lawmakers consider banning transgender girls from girls' sports, charging teachers who allow 'obscene' books in classroom

Douglas Gentile, professor psychology at Iowa State University, said parents who come across posts like that should evaluate before sharing the information.

"Before we get outraged by it, or before we pass it on to someone else, we should pause and maybe say, 'Do I really need to click? Share? Or do I really need to comment on this?'" Gentile said

He added he knows that's tough to do.

"When a story comes out about some odd social complexity, our brains pick it up just like that, because that's kind of what it evolved to do, is to help us pay attention. And that's why rumors have such power over us," Gentile said.

RELATED: Controversy builds as Johnston High School student looks to form chapter of conservative club

Read the email sent out by Carroll Community School District below:

WATCH | What you need to know from Iowa politics this week 

Before You Leave, Check This Out