KIEL, Wis. (ChurchMilitant.com) - School administrators in the Midwest came down hard on middle schoolers for failing to comply with transgender pronouns.
The Kiel School District in Wisconsin filed a Title IX complaint against three eighth-graders who allegedly called a classmate "she/her" instead of the gender-neutral "they/them." Title IX is a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination at schools, government agencies and other institutions.
The mother of one of the students, Rosemary Rabidoux, said she "immediately went into shock" when she got notice of her son's "sexual harassment allegations," saying, "I'm thinking, sexual harassment? That's rape, that's inappropriate touching, that's incest. What has my son done?"
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) is defending the accused students. WILL said the incident occurred in April, a month after the classmate announced she would like to be addressed with "they/them" pronouns.
Rabidoux said her son Braden tried to tell the "gender-neutral" classmate it was a constitutional right to not have to address her by her proposed pronouns.
Explaining the story to local news, Rabidoux noted, "She had been screaming at one of Braden's friends to use proper pronouns, calling him profanity, and this friend is very soft-spoken and kind of just sunk down into his chair."
The mother continued, "Braden finally came up, defending him, saying, 'He doesn't have to use proper pronouns; it's his constitutional right to not use ... you can't make him say things.'"
Rabidoux insisted her family and son were not against the LGBT community, adding, "My children have been raised to love everybody equally."
WILL Deputy Counsel Luke Berg called the school district's sexual harassment charge "an extreme abuse of the Title IX process." Berg added, "It's totally inappropriate and is totally being mishandled by the school district."
The school district released a statement that said it "prohibits all forms of bullying and harassment in accordance with all laws, including Title IX." The district reaffirmed it will "continue to support ALL students regardless of sex (including transgender status, change of sex or gender identity)."
In a letter to the school district, the lawyers at WILL said the complaint and investigation into the three boys is "wholly inappropriate and should be immediately dismissed."
"The mere use of biologically correct pronouns not only does not constitute sexual harassment under Title IX or the District's own policy, it is also speech protected by the First Amendment."
The lawyers' letter cited the Supreme Court case Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. This 2021 case involved public schools and their ability to regulate student speech.
The letter said "under the law, students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression, even at the schoolhouse gate."
Social media users offered several comments on this story.
One user said, "The truly frightening thing is that Kiel is a small, rural community — it's small-town Wisconsin. A red area in a red county. This isn't some Dem stronghold around Milwaukee or Madison. And still, lunatic progressives have this kind of influence in the school district."
Another Twitter account commented, "Failure to use correct pronouns is not sexual harassment, it is verbal abuse."
WILL also took on parental rights cases in the state's Madison and Milwaukee areas in which school districts were accused of having policies of concealing a child's choice to "change genders." Wisconsin is among many states where incidents involving schools and gender issues have increased in recent years.
Church Militant previously reported on a teacher that was reinstated after a clash over pronoun usage.