Tony Dungy

Over the last few months, you might have heard or seen Republicans and conservatives sharing an anecdote about schools across America adding litter boxes to classrooms in order to appease students who are now identifying as cats. It would be so silly if not for the fact that this asinine and truly idiotic talking point has been taken very seriously by many people, including, it seems, NBC’s Tony Dungy.

Dungy, who was last heard dragging down the energy of one of the most exciting NFL playoff game finishes of all time, took a break from sharing NFL tidbits and analysis on Wednesday to respond to a Daily Wire tweet about Minnesota legislators discussing a bill that would require menstrual products in boys school bathrooms. The former NFL head coach, who has long been a proponent of Christian views of marriage and family as well as an opponent of LGBTQ+ rights and gender nonconformity, responded by sharing the thoroughly debunked litter box anecdote that has been previously shared by the likes of Lauren Boebert, Joe Rogan, and other conservative voices (Ed. – Dungy deleted the tweet around 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday).

“That’s nothing,” wrote Dungy. “Some school districts are putting litter boxes in the school bathrooms for the students who identify as cats. Very important to address every student’s needs.”

Just in case it needs clarifying, per NBC News, at least 20 conservative candidates and elected officials claimed last year that K-12 schools were adding litter boxes and every one of those school districts said these claims were untrue.

Of course, the point of the hoax isn’t to actually prove that there are litter boxes in schools for kids who want to be cats. The point is to perpetuate a backlash against the recognition of gender variance and transgender equality, something that people like Dungy are deathly afraid of.

“It’s only used to kind of sensationalize untruth, and to harm our community, in particular our transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive youth,” Nadine Bridges, executive director of One Colorado, an LGBTQ rights organization, told NBC News in October. “Why would you attack our most vulnerable to get your point across, especially since the point is baseless?”

One wouldn’t expect NBC to do or say much regarding Dungy’s tweet. As Outsports has reported, the Super Bowl-winning coach has been speaking out against the LGBTQ+ community and like-minded issues for decades and there has rarely been any kind of pushback from the network or his colleagues.

Dungy has long been a featured speaker at an event hosted by anti-gay Christian evangelist Andrew Wommack, who has equated being gay to murder, among other statements. He also went out of his way to defend Jon Gruden against claims that the former coach was racist, sexist, and homophobic a day before emails confirmed that Gruden used racist, sexist, and homophobic rhetoric multiple times in emails.

Sadly, the only confirmed instance of a school putting litter in classrooms comes from a school district that used “go buckets” containing cat litter as an emergency bathroom for students in lockdown during potential school shooter instances. Given the gun control views of the people spreading the litter box myth, the irony of that is surely lost on them.

[Tony Dungy, NBC News, Outsports]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.