The lines have once again been blurred and crossed with Title IX rights as a new, chilling case emerges in Wisconsin in which three middle school boys have been charged with sexual harassment complaints over not using a classmate’s preferred pronouns. The boys are currently working with free speech legal advocates to make the case that this was not a violation of Title IX but instead a violation of their own First Amendment rights. Here’s what’s happening at Kiel Middle School in Wisconsin and why it matters to the pro-life movement:
The Details of The Case
At Kiel Middle School in Kiel, Wisconsin, three young boys have been charged with Title IX sexual harassment violations by school officials over allegations that they did not use another classmate’s preferred pronouns correctly. According to Fox News, the incident in question occurred in March, 2022, when a female classmate of the boys announced that she would like to be referred to using they/them pronouns.
One of the boys’ mothers, Rosemary Rapidoux, spoke to local news and said she had been informed of the charges via an ominous phone call from the investigating principal. Rapidoux said,
“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. 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?”
Instead, Rapidoux would find that her son hadn’t done any of those terrible things—in fact, it was the very opposite. He was charged for not doing something; for not saying what someone else had wanted him to say. Upon finding this out, Rapidoux said she initially thought the charges were “a gag” as “one has nothing to do with the other,” and maintained that her son was just sticking up for one of his friends who was being ruthlessly bullied for using the biologically correct pronouns.
She said, “She [the student who asked to be called they/them] had been screaming at one of Braden’s friends to use proper pronouns, calling him profanity, and this friend is very soft-spoken…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.’”
The three boys are now being represented by an attorney with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), and WILL deputy counsel Luke Berg has said that this case has nothing to do with Title IX.
Berg said, “Title IX sexual harassment typically covers things like rape, dating violence, quid pro quo sexual favors; really egregious stuff. 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. It’s totally inappropriate and is totally being mishandled by the school district.”
In a case statement on WILL’s website, WILL further explains the situation, writing, “What the District calls “mispronouning” does not amount to sexual harassment under Title IX as a matter of law. And the District’s conduct infringes on the First Amendment and Due Process rights of the students.”
Why The Kiel Middle School Case Matters
This case matters because it shows yet another way of misinterpreting Title IX and using this misinterpretation to harm students’ general welfare. In the case of Kiel Middle School, Title IX is wrongfully being used as a cudgel to compel speech and thus infringe on the freedom of speech. Because of this Title IX misinterpretation, three young boys have been wrongfully saddled with sexual harassment charges and brought into the public eye at a tender age.
In many other cases, Title IX is also wrongfully misinterpreted and violated when pregnant and parenting students have their scholarships taken away, get kicked off sports teams or are otherwise disadvantaged merely because they are pregnant or parents. This misinterpretation comes from a lack of understanding Title IX’s protections, and such misinterpretations have led to seriously unfortunate and unfair ramifications for pregnant and parenting students.
(Click HERE to read about Ruth, a pregnant student who had her Title IX rights violated by her school, and how Students for Life of America helped bring justice to her situation.)
The Pro-Life Generation should always know their Title IX rights so that you can stick up for yourself and your community. If you need to be brushed up on the details of Title IX and the protections it affords you, click HERE to go to Standing With You for more information.
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