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Students identifying as animals, sparking controversy

Reports emerge of pupils adopting animal personas with human characteristics

Source: Daily Mail

Schools are allowing children to identify as cats, horses, and dinosaurs - and teachers are 'failing to question them', it was claimed today.

There was widespread outrage earlier this week when a 13-year-old girl was branded 'despicable' by her teacher for rejecting her classmate's claim that she identified as a cat.

Now further stories are emerging of pupils who identify as animals with very human characteristics - often known as 'furries'.

At a state secondary school in Wales, one student is said to 'meow' when asked questions by a teacher, rather than answering in English, the Telegraph reports.

In other schools, one apparently insists on being addressed as a dinosaur, one claims to identify as a horse while another is said to wear a cape and demands to be acknowledged as a moon.

Pupils claim teachers are 'not allowed to get annoyed' about such behavior in case it is seen as being discriminatory.

However, lessons are reportedly becoming completely derailed by these interactions, impacting the quality of their classmates' education.

Tracy Shaw, of the grassroots Safe Schools Alliance, said she has seen an increasing number of reports of children identifying as animals, but added that these remain in small numbers.

'This is worrying, as there is a high probability that those children have been online in unregulated chat forums,' she said.

'We know predators will do anything to get to children and what better way than to infiltrate chat forums pretending to be a cute furry animal? These children are often already isolated and vulnerable; they may also feel that they don't fit in.

'Teachers need to be showing professional curiosity when they encounter children who are identifying as animals.

'Affirming children as animals harms those children as it fails to look into their lives and get them the help they need. It also harms other children in the school.

'We are appalled that children are expected to ignore the evidence before their own eyes and pretend that children are something they are clearly not.

'When schools then sanction those children for not going along with the concept that children have animal identities that are valid and authentic, we have to believe that those schools have been infiltrated and are no longer a safe place for children.'

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, told MailOnline: 'In the current climate this cannot be dismissed as innocent examples of 'imaginative play', but further examples of the confusing and harmful ideologies which are continuing to escalate in our schools.

'This story exposes the confusion and untruths being embedded in schools which are developing into a public health crisis.

'This is where 'inclusive' education leaves teachers, parents, and children – lost in moral chaos and confusion.

'Out of fear of questioning or going against the secular orthodoxy on these issues, teachers are forced to go along with it and to kowtow to whatever a child 'identifies' at any given moment.

'The harmful impact on children will not just be seen now, but also in the years to come if it goes unchecked.

'Teachers who rock the boat by refusing to use a pupil's preferred identity, or who raise standard safeguarding concerns over transitioning children, are marginalized, silenced, and have even ended up losing their careers.

'Truth is becoming stranger than fiction. Sadly, such is the climate of fear in schools, we can no longer rely on the common sense of teachers.'

However, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he hasn't heard of it arising as an issue in schools.

'There are nine million children in England's schools so it is not surprising that all sorts of things crop up in discussions in classrooms,' he said.

'Teachers and leaders are very good at dealing with whatever situation arises.'

The government is due to issue new guidance on self-identity this week, but the issue of 'furries' will not be specifically addressed.

A Department for Education spokesman said teachers would be trusted to apply 'common sense' in each individual case. 

It comes after two teenage Year 8 pupils at Rye College in East Sussex were ordered to stay behind in class after clashing with their classmate who identifies as a cat.

One of the girls secretly recorded their conversation with the teacher, who can be heard reprimanding them both for their views that gender is binary, calling it 'really despicable' and 'very sad'.

The girls were also told 'if you don't like it you should go to a different school.'

Last night, the mother of one of the girls, who has asked to be kept anonymous, told MailOnline: 'I'm so proud of my daughter, she will always stand up for what she believes is right and this is all that she did.

'She expressed a view that many, many of her classmates and their parents would share yet she was shouted down and bullied by someone in authority.'

Earlier this year, it emerged that the Safer Schools safeguarding organization had issued guidance for parents and teachers on how to support 'furries'.

It's unclear how many UK pupils identify as such, but Safer Schools published a lengthy document advising how to respond if they encounter one who does.

The series of observations about furries include reassurances that it's in no way unusual for pupils to want to do this: 'It's normal for young people to express themselves through ''dressing up''.'

The post on the organization's website explains how members of the furry 'community' like to take on the persona of an animal – a 'fursona' – and interact with other like-minded 'fursonas' by chatting and in acts of role-play.

It further outlines how furries take on the personality and physical attributes of their chosen animal and some members make or buy vibrant costumes of their characters, known as 'fursuits'. 

Conventions are held around the world where these like-minded people can meet up in their altered animal ego, it says.

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