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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colorado (LifeSiteNews) — Public school officials in Jefferson County, Colorado have been caught falsely claiming that students were not dressing up as “furries” in school.

“Furries” refers to people who dress up as animals.

Media attention over the issue began when Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl said at the end of September that there are “furries in Colorado schools.”

Ganahl said there are at least 30 different schools this is happening in and specifically cited Jefferson County schools as one of the examples. A Fox 31 Denver anchor said the story had been debunked and a fact-check attached to the YouTube video said the claim is “an assertion that has been disputed by a local district, and in fact-checks from across the country.”

“There are no litter boxes in our buildings and students are not allowed to come to school in costume. There are no furries or students identifying as such during the school day,” a spokesperson told Fox 31 at the end of September. Ganahl never said students were using “litter boxes.”

But there are furries in the schools and parents were raising the issue to administrators, according to public records obtained by media outlets and photographic evidence reviewed by The Federalist.

A local CBS News outlet profiled Darlene Edwards, a Democratic mom whose son with autism told her about his classmates. “An open records request shows that Edwards is among at least two dozen parents who’ve written the district over the last eight months most of them referring to the kids as furries,” the affiliate reported. CBS News noted that Edwards is “pro-LGBTQ.”

Edwards alleged that students were wearing “collars” and “ears” and “tails” and were “hissing” and “barking.” The kids also walk on all fours and refer to themselves as “animal avengers.”

Emails obtained by CBS News Colorado showed administrators debating the best way to downplay the issue.

Others, obtained by The Federalist, show that school officials had to ban the costumes on at least one campus because they had become disruptive.

The district’s denial of furries “came more than a month after the classroom costumes became so disruptive that administrators at Drake Middle School were compelled to update their dress code. An Aug. 22 email shows district leaders acknowledging the issue throughout the school system,” The Federalist reported.

“We have all received the emails about the furries in schools and Drake’s decision to ban them,” Chief of Schools David Weiss wrote to the deputy superintendent. He also wrote that “these challenges should be addressed at the lowest level.”

The Federalist said it met with parents in Colorado who showed the conservative publication photos of students dressed as furries.

The publication noted that Fox 31 and other media outlets lumped in Ganahl’s claims with others who have claimed that there are students using “litter boxes” in the schools.

An article from a liberal reporter “was picked up by Democrats and the press, both local and national, amplifying Ganahl’s remarks as evidence of a supposed extremist fabricating tales while running for the governor’s mansion,” The Federalist reported. “While Ganahl never said anything about ‘litter boxes,’ Beedle [the reporter] connected the remarks to GOP claims in other states that students go as far as to demand these boxes be available at school.”

The school district did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday morning from LifeSiteNews about its statements to the media and The Federalist’s assertions about its response.