A Wisconsin school district has filed a Title IX complaint against three middle school students who they say sexually harassed another student by refusing to use “proper pronouns.”
According to WTAQ on Friday, one student demanded to be addressed with “they/them” pronouns, but the three other students refused. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, or WILL – which is now defending the accused students – said 13-year-old Braden rejected the student’s demands, arguing that it was his constitutional right to say what he wants.
“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 kinda just sunk down into his chair,” Rosemary Rabidoux, Braden’s mom, explained. “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.’”
Kiel Middle School later contacted Rabidoux to let her know that her son was under investigation for sexual harassment.
“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 was stunned to find out Braden was being investigated for “not using proper pronouns.”
“I thought it wasn’t real! I thought this has gotta be a gag, a joke…one has nothing to do with the other,” she said.
After being notified of the investigation, Rabidoux contacted WILL.
“Title IX sexual harassment typically covers things like rape, dating violence, quid pro quo sexual favors; really egregious stuff,” the group’s deputy counsel Luke Berg said. “There’s nothing even remotely close to that alleged in this case.”
“The charge against students for sexual harassment is an extreme abuse of the Title IX process,” said Berg. “It’s totally inappropriate and is totally being mishandled by the school district.”
WILL called on school district administrators to drop the Title IX complaint and end the investigation.
In a statement to Fox 11, the Kiel School District said that it “prohibits all forms of bullying and harassment in accordance with all laws, including Title IX” and adds that it will “continue to support ALL students regardless of sex (including transgender status, change of sex or gender identity).”