Parental and Student Rights Under Attack in Wisconsin

The rights of parents and students are under attack at a Wisconsin middle school. Three students have been accused of violating their school district's Title IX policy for not using their classmate's preferred pronouns. The allegations are not only ludicrous, but the students and their parents have been denied the due process rights afforded to them by the school district's Title IX policy. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), who is representing the accused students and their families, explains:

Three eighth grade students in the Kiel Area School District were notified of a Title IX complaint and investigation for sexual harassment for using a biologically correct pronoun when referring to a classmate, instead of the student’s preferred pronoun of “they/them.” The District’s position appears to be that once a student informs others of alternate, preferred pronouns, any subsequent “mispronouning” automatically constitutes punishable sexual harassment under Title IX.

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. While there is a catchall for “unwelcome conduct” that is “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to education,” the mere use of a biologically correct pronoun, without significantly more, does not count, and if it did, it would violate the First Amendment. Schools of course can and should deal with teasing and bullying, but using so-called “incorrect pronouns” alone is not punishable, without more.

Further, the District has also failed to follow Title IX procedures and its own process. Both the District’s policy and Title IX regulations require notice of the allegations before beginning any investigation so that the accused has “sufficient time to prepare a response before any initial interview.” The District failed to provide a detailed notice of the allegations, instead providing only a generic letter, one day before the District sought to question the minor students, stating that the boys were accused of “using incorrect pronouns.” The District initiated its investigation and conducted interviews without first providing additional details or giving the boys and their families time to prepare.

Despite not replying to a letter sent by WILL, the school district has issued a statement to parents on the matter, standing by their decision to file the complaints against the students.

Parent Rosemary Rabidoux has been spreading awareness about what her son and the other accused students and their families are going through as a result from the school district's actions.

Other school districts in Wisconsin are also under fire for their policies regarding parental rights and gender identity issues (See B.F. V. Kettle Moraine School District and Doe v. Madison Metropolitan School District).

To learn more, join RNLA for a webinar this Friday on the latest attacks on parental rights featuring the Southeastern Legal Foundation's Kim Hermann and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty's Cory Brewer. The webinar will discuss the Wisconsin Title IX case as well as the revelation by House Republicans that the FBI has been using counterterrorism resources to investigate parents. Register here today!