Last Updated on May 14, 2022
A Wisconsin school district has filed sexual harassment complaints against three middle school students for referring to a classmate by the wrong pronouns.
The Kiel School District has charged three eighth-graders at the Kiel Middle School with sexual harassment after an incident in April in which the students refused to use “they” pronouns to address a classmate. The student had reportedly switched their pronouns to “they” just a month before, according to a report from Fox 17.
Kiel School Districted filed the complaint as a Title IX violation.
“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, one of the parents of the students being accused told the outlet. “I immediately went into shock! I’m thinking, sexual harassment? That’s rape, that’s inappropriate touching, that’s incest. What has my son done?”
Rabidoux’s 13-year-old son Braden is one of the three middle-schoolers being charged with “sexual harassment”, an allegation she vehemently disputes.
“[The principal] said he’s being allegedly charged with sexual harassment for not using proper pronouns,” said Rabidoux. “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.”
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), which is now defending the accused students, says the misuse of pronouns is not a part of the school district’s policy or Title IX.
“The charge against students for sexual harassment is an extreme abuse of the Title IX process,” said a WILL spokesman. “It’s totally inappropriate and is totally being mishandled by the school district.”
The Wisconsin school district said it “prohibits all forms of bullying and harassment in accordance with all laws, including Title IX,” in a statement of their own. The district went on to say that it will “continue to support ALL students regardless of sex (including transgender status, change of sex or gender identity),” according to Fox 17.
WILL attorneys later a letter to administrators at the Kiel Area School District urging them to drop a Title IX complaint and investigation against the three students.
“Sexual harassment, as defined in both Title IX and the Kiel Area School District’s policy, typically covers things like rape, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, inappropriate touching, and quid pro quo sexual favors. None of that—or anything even close to it—is alleged in the complaint,” WILL attorneys wrote.
What the District calls “mispronouning” does not amount to sexual harassment under Title IX as a matter of law. And the District’s conduct infringes on the First Amendment and Due Process rights of the students,” the letter continued.
The Kiel School District serves about 1,200 Wisconsin students.