Election 2022

Jensen spreads false rumor about Minnesota's LGBTQ+ youth

A person speaks
Republican candidate Scott Jensen speaks to MPR News on Sept. 2 at the Minnesota State Fair.
Samantha Stroozas | MPR News

At a campaign event last week Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen was filmed saying that some school districts have litter boxes for students to urinate in, as first reported by CNN.

“Why are we telling elementary kids that they get to choose their gender this week? Why do we have litter boxes in some of the school districts so kids can pee in them because they identify as a furry? We’ve lost our minds,” he said.

MPR News reached out to Jensen’s campaign for a comment but did not receive an immediate response.

The unfounded rumor of litter boxes in classrooms isn’t new to the nation, or Minnesota. In April the Minnesota Reformer reported that Reps. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa and Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg shared the rumor on the House floor during debate on an education budget bill.

The rumor has also been reported in Michigan, Iowa, Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana and Nebraska.

While the litter box claim has been debunked, that doesn’t mean the rumor is any less harmful to Minnesota’s LGBTQ+ youth said Leigh Finke, DFL candidate for House District 66A in an interview with MPR News. Finke is likely to be the state's first openly transgender lawmaker if elected in November.

“It’s absolutely devastating to me to think that anyone wants a governor who talks this way about children, especially vulnerable kids who are just trying to survive. It’s a really gross thing no one should have to hear. It is not true. And I don’t want to waste my time saying trans kids aren’t animals. Hopefully we can have real conversations about what matters.”

Darwin Forsyth, a spokesperson for Gov. Walz’s campaign, released a statement saying: “Spreading these conspiracy theories about our schools makes it even harder for teachers and principals to do their jobs. We can't afford to elect a governor who will undermine our public schools and spread lies in an effort to cut funding for public education.”

Communications Director Kevin Burns told MPR News, “The Minnesota Department of Education is not aware of even a single school that has such a thing.”

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