Just days before her Funny Girl debut, Lea Michele is opening up about a viral internet rumor theorizing that she can’t read. “I went to ‘Glee’ every day; I knew my lines every day. And then there is a rumor on the internet that I can neither read nor write? That’s sad. It really is,” Michele said in a recent profile for The New York Times. “I often think if I were a man, a lot of that wouldn’t be the case.”

The conspiracy theory began circulating on social media years ago, with some users perpetuating the idea that Michele’s child star was preventing them from learning to read and write. Jaye Hunt and Robert Ackerman of the One More Thing podcast helped fan the flames. “The genius thing I would say about the theory is that there is so much evidence that helps us as opposed to what hinders us,” Ackerman said in a 2018 interview with Jezebel, though he himself admitted that he doesn’t really believe the rumor.

Initially, Michele seemed to find humor in the theory, even tweeting: “Loved reading this tweet and wanted to text you back? I literally laughed out loud at all of this? I love you !!! ? ❤️,” according to People. But as Michele explained to the Times, she is now afraid to make things worse, fearing any kind of further reaction will only prolong the internet’s jabs.

Michele has previously been accused of bullying and racism by her “Glee” castmates. Samantha Marie Ware called Michele about “traumatic microaggressions” in 2020, while Heather Morris tweeted about the “disrespect” shown by Michele, saying that “she SHOULD be called.” In her profile, Michele declined to directly address Ware’s criticism (she previously apologized for her past behavior in 2020), but said she’s changed since then. “I really understand now how important and valuable it is to be a leader,” she said. “It means not only going in and doing a good job when the camera is on, but also when it’s not. And that wasn’t always the most important thing for me.”