Are “furries” harmless? | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Are “furries” harmless?

The trend of students identifying as animals may be linked to a strange adult subculture

Jens Kalaene / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Are “furries” harmless?
You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining. You've read all of your free articles.

Full access isn’t far.

We can’t release more of our sound journalism without a subscription, but we can make it easy for you to come aboard.

Get started for as low as $3.99 per month.

Current WORLD subscribers can log in to access content. Just go to "SIGN IN" at the top right.


Already a member? Sign in.

ON APRIL 17, some 75 ­parents and students from a Payson, Utah, middle school staged a walkout over classmates they said were literally dressing and acting like animals. The students at Mt. Nebo Middle School said so-called “furries” were biting, scratching, and barking at other kids. The incident was the latest report of animal-identifying students at school, but the trend may be linked to a strange adult subculture.

So what are furries? They’re individuals who try to personify anthropomorphic animals. Most develop a distinct “fursona” by wearing costumes called ­“fursuits” or other animal garb such as tails or ears.

What happened at Mt. Nebo Middle School? After students complained about their classmates’ animal antics, a petition was launched calling on the school to enforce the district’s dress code. The Nebo School District, though, called reports about furries at one of its middle schools “unfounded.” It claimed that while some children had worn headbands with ears, there had been “no students attending school wearing masks, animal costumes, or acting like animals.” But Blaze News posted videos and photos showing kids it claimed were Nebo students in animal masks and crawling on all fours, barking or meowing.

Have similar incidents occurred elsewhere? In 2021, Camp Ernst Middle School in Burlington, Ky., alerted parents to an uptick in “TikTok trends” involving students barking and wearing collars. School districts in Michigan, California, and Colorado have debunked rumors that they installed litter boxes in restrooms for students who identify as cats.

Where did the concept of furries originate? It arose in the late 1970s in science fiction and underground comix communities, according to the late fandom historian Fred Patten. (Comix refers to alternative comic strips that are often luridly sexual or political.)

How widespread is it? In 2023, the two largest U.S. furry conventions, Anthrocon and the Midwest FurFest, attracted 13,644 and 15,547 attendees, respectively. Ferzu, a social networking and dating app for furries, claims over 45,000 members.

Who’s into it? The website Furscience describes furries as a “diverse community of fans, artists, writers, gamers, and role players.” They are predominantly male, but as many as 1 in 3 say they are something other than male or female, according to Furscience surveys.

Are there dangers in the furry subculture? Roughly 96 percent of men and 80 percent of women involved in the fandom reported viewing “furry pornography,” according to a 2013 survey. In a 2019 survey of 334 male furries, 99 percent said their motivation was at least partly sexual. The U.K.-based Safer Schools Ecosystem warns that child predators could mask their identity as a furry to prey on kids. Middle schoolers who act like cats may just be goofing off, but parents should beware the deeper hazards.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...