Middle schoolers call each other some colorful and creative things; shouldn’t they be encouraged when they choose to be merely factual and accurate?
Yet three eighth-graders are being accused of sexual harassment by a school district in Wisconsin for not using the “preferred pronouns” of a schoolmate, according to a report from local news outlet WLUK.
The three middle schoolers face a Title IX complaint filed by the Kiel Area School District (KASD), in which the district claims that its policies prohibit “all forms of bullying and harassment in accordance with all laws, including Title IX.”
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) is representing the three students, who are accused of using the correct biological (and grammatical) pronouns of a student who wants everyone to refer to him/her with plural “they/them” pronouns. WILL is arguing that the other students’ use of the appropriate pronouns is “speech protected by the First Amendment” and asked that the district drop the complaint.
One of the accused students’ parents is Rosemary Rabidoux, who got some advance warning that her son would be charged with “sexual harassment,” reported FOX 11.
“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,” Rabidoux said. “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 said she thought someone was playing a joke on her.
“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 mom said.
In a letter it sent to the district, WILL contended that using the correct, biological pronoun for another human being is not sexual harassment under Title IX or the district’s policy.
“‘Mispronouning’ is also not sexual harassment under Title IX because gender identity is not included within the definition of sex within Title IX,” the letter reads. “In fact, the Department of Education is currently attempting to amend Title IX to add it.”
“None of this warrants accusations of sexual harassment and the serious reputational harm that comes with it,” the letter states.