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Wisconsin middle school charges three boys with sexual harassment for using 'wrong' pronouns

The mom of one of the accused said she thought it was a "joke"

Published: May 15, 2022 4:54pm

Updated: May 15, 2022 6:56pm

A Wisconsin middle school is charging three boys with sexual harassment for calling a classmate the "incorrect pronouns."

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) wrote a letter to Kiel Area School District administrators urging them to drop the Title IX complaint and investigation against the eighth graders.

The complaint in March began after the boys used a biologically correct pronoun when speaking about a classmate rather than using "they/them," the pronouns the student prefers. 

"I received a phone call from the principal over at the elementary school, forewarning me; letting me know that I was going to be receiving an email with sexual harassment allegations against my son," Rosemary Rabidoux, a parent of one of the boys, told Fox 11.

"I immediately went into shock. I’m thinking, sexual harassment? That’s rape, that’s inappropriate touching, that’s incest," she said. "What has my son done?"

The principal told Rabidoux her son is facing sexual harassment charges for not using proper pronouns. 

"I thought it wasn’t real. I thought this has got to be a gag, a joke – one has nothing to do with the other," she said.

Using biologically correct pronouns does not constitute as sexual harassment under Title IX and is protected by the First Amendment, WILL stated.

District superintendent Brad Ebert defended the school in a statement to ABC 2.

"The KASD prohibits all forms of bullying and harassment in accordance with all laws, including Title IX, and will continue to support ALL students regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, creed, pregnancy, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, sex (including transgender status, change of sex or gender identity), or physical, mental, emotional or learning disability ('Protected Classes') in any of its student programs and activities; this is consistent with school board policy. We do not comment on any student matters," he said.

WILL observed that the district's position seams to be that as soon as a student announces new pronouns, any subsequent "mispronouning" is classified as punishable sexual harassment in violation fo Title IX, which is meant to protect people from sex-based discrimination.

"School administrators can’t force minor students to comply with their preferred mode of speaking. And they certainly shouldn’t be slapping eighth graders with Title IX investigations for what amounts to protected speech," WILL Deputy Counsel Luke Berg said. "This is a terrible precedent to set, with enormous ramifications."

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