“They meow and they bark and they interact with their teachers in this fashion,” Bostelman said during legislative debate. “And now schools are wanting to put litter boxes in the schools for these children to use. How is this sanitary?”

Nebraska state lawmaker apologized on Monday after he publicly cited a persistent but debunked rumor alleging that schools are placing litter boxes in school bathrooms to accommodate children who self-identify as cats, reports the Guardian.

State senator Bruce Bostelman, a conservative Republican, repeated the false claim during a public, televised debate on a bill intended to help school children who have behavioral problems. His comments quickly went viral, with one Twitter video garnering more than 300,000 views as of Monday afternoon, and drew an onslaught of online criticism and ridicule.

Bostelman initially said he was “shocked” when he heard stories that children were dressing as cats and dogs while at school, with claims that schools were accommodating them with litter boxes.

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