Just how far the wars over LGBT ideology have entered the classrooms could be seen recently when three middle school boys narrowly escaped punishment. They were being investigated under Title IX proceedings after a Wisconsin school accused them of sexual harassment for “mispronouning” a female student.
In a case that attorneys described as “bizarre,” the Kiel Area School District in Wisconsin opened a formal Title IX complaint of “sexual harassment” against three eighth-grade boys on March 29. The official complaint form denotes “mispronouning” as the cause for the investigation.
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The school district sent a subsequent letter to the parents, revealing that the “sexual harassment” consisted of the eighth-graders not referring to a female student with her “preferred pronouns” of “they/them.”
Rosemary Rabidoux, the mother of one of the accused boys—13-year-old Braden—told the media in April that the “sexually harassed” student “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.”
According to Mrs. Rabidoux, “Braden finally came up, defending him, saying ‘he doesn’t have to use proper pronouns; it’s his constitutional right to not use [them]; you can’t make him say things.’”
Attorneys Defend the Three Students
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) agreed to defend the three boys and their families. Its lawyers informed the school district on May 12 that both the complaint and investigation into the boys were “wholly inappropriate and should be immediately dismissed.”
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WILL noted that 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 attorneys argued that the school district had violated Title IX procedures and its own policy in handling the complaint. The district failed to give a required “detailed notice of the allegations,” giving instead only a “generic letter.” The Kiel school district also held rounds of questioning “without first providing additional details or giving the boys and their families time to prepare.”
Drawing from prior cases, the attorneys warned the school district that “[a]s much as the District may want to control which pronouns students use, it ‘do[es] not have a license to act as classroom thought police.’”
In another email, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty re-iterated their warning to the Kiel school district on June 2, writing that Title IX investigations were completely inappropriate.
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School District Drops the Case
Shortly afterward, on the same day, the Kiel school district announced that the matter was now considered “closed.” The school district’s brief letter did not withdraw or publicly correct its Title IX investigation into the three boys but instead defended the school staff:
“As we move forward, we want to acknowledge the strain on our administrators and staff who have been criticized for simply carrying out the functions of their job as set out in District policy. These are individuals who have dedicated their careers to education and who selflessly put the interests of all students in front of their own each day they come to work in the District. We are disappointed that administration and staff have been targeted in this matter by individuals who are not privy to all of the information and implore our school community to show support and care for each one of them.”
Attorneys at WILL welcomed the news but clarified that “while the District’s statement attempts to reframe the investigation, it was always primarily about ‘mispronouning.’ The District may not be willing to admit it publicly, but it has recognized that it has no legal basis to demand that our clients refrain from ‘mispronouning’ other students.”
The attorneys added that, with the matter closed, they intend to ensure that the Title IX complaints are removed from the boys’ records.
A Battle for America’s Children
While the matter has seemingly been resolved, the case demonstrates how classrooms have become battlegrounds for promoting LGBT ideology.
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Writing in the Wall Street Journal before the case’s closing, WILL President Rick Esenberg and Deputy Counsel Luke Berg described the “bizarre” case was by no means isolated as the promotion of gender ideology sweeps through America’s classrooms: “All of this may soon be coming to a school near you.”
Canadian pro-life activist Jonathon Van Maren noted that the school district had hijacked the role of parents. “The parents of these three accused students—attempting to navigate the seismic changes the LGBT movement has unleashed on the public school system over the past few years—have unfortunately learned how progressives see their kids the hard way,” wrote Van Maren. “As President Joe Biden himself said while addressing teachers: ‘They are not somebody else’s children. They’re yours when you’re in the classroom.’”
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