‘Furry’ Claims Spark Walkout At Utah Middle School; School Pushes Back

A petition against "furries" at school has garnered nearly 1,700 signatures.
BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 17: Participants, or furries, as they prefer to be called, dance upon their arrival at the Estrel Hotel for the 2016 Eurofurence furries gathering on August 17, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Approximately 2,500 furries from all over the world will participate in the four-day convention that includes dance parties, fashion shows and art events. Furries describe themselves as anthroporphic actors and the movemment has its roots in science fiction and fantasy genres going back to the 1980s. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A group of children and adults staged an hours-long walkout at a Utah middle school on Wednesday over an unusual issue — “furries.”

The protesters walked out of Mt. Nebo Middle School, which is about an hour south of Salt Lake City, claiming that students who dress as “furries” were being disruptive.

Furries are people who have an interest in animals with human qualities, according to WebMD.

In video of the protests shared to social media, students accuse the alleged “furries” at Mt. Nebo of biting, scratching, barking at, spraying air freshener on, and pouncing on other students.

Some students who walked out complained that the furries wore masks every day, according to a video of the protest shared to social media.

“They think they’re so cool,” one girl said.

“We can’t talk or say anything to the furries or even look at them, but they can come look at us and say stuff to us and touch us,” said another girl.


However, the school district’s public information officer, Seth Sorensen, pushed back on claims about students dressing up as animals. Students may wear headbands with ears, but they do not dress up in full-body animal costumes, he said.

“Today, we had some students and parents choose to exercise their right to assemble, and do a little protest for what they perceived was something that was happening in the school,” Sorensen told ABC4. “It actually is not something that’s been occurring.”

“Interestingly enough, they really didn’t address us with anything they wanted changed,” he said. “We want every student to feel safe when they come to school, and we want students to get along. In fact, we want adults to get along.”

He added that the protest may have been the result of a miscommunication via an email from the school about an altercation between two groups of students.

The school also said it has worked with some students whose dress and appearance might be disruptive to the school environment.

At Wednesday’s protest, children held signs reading “Compelled speech is not free speech,” as well as “I will not comply,” and “We just wanted to learn.”

A petition dubbed “Students for Humans at School, not animals aka furries” has garnered nearly 1,700 signatures so far. The petition asks the school to enforce a dress code, which the petitioners say prohibits students from presenting themselves in a way that disrupts the learning atmosphere or creates a welfare issue.

The online “furry” fandom often has sexual overtones, although some self-identified “furries” insist sex has nothing to do with their interest in the fandom.

A 2011 survey of “furries” found that about a quarter of “furries” said they felt less than 100% human.

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