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Wisconsin school district files Title IX complaint against 3 middle school students

A Wisconsin mom shared her horror after her 13 year-old son was accused of sexual harassment for refusing to refer to a non-binary schoolmate with ‘they/them’ pronouns. 

Rosemary Rabidoux hit out after her son Bradon became one of three eighth grade schoolboys at Kiel Middle School subjected to an ongoing probe.

It was triggered after they chose not to use the gender neutral pronoun for their unidentified classmate, who they instead referred to using ‘she’ and her’.

Things appear to have escalated quickly with the school district now filing a Title IX complaint against the students, accusing them of sexual harassment for using the  ‘incorrect’ pronouns.

Bradon’s mother, Rosemary said that the district had taken things too far by filing such a complaint. 

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Rosemary Rabidoux’s 13-year-old son has been accused of sexual assault for incorrectly using a pronoun as stipulated by a fellow student

‘(The investigating principal) said he’s being allegedly charged with sexual harassment for not using proper pronouns. 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,’ Rabidoux said to ABC4. 

One of the alleged incidents that Braden and two others were involved in occurred last month.

‘I immediately went into shock! I’m thinking, sexual harassment? That’s rape, that’s inappropriate touching, that’s incest,’ Rabidoux added. ‘What has my son done?’

‘She had been screaming at one of Braden’s friends to use proper pronouns, calling him a profanity, and this friend is very soft-spoken, and kind of just sunk down into his chair,’ Rabidoux explained.

Three Kiel Middle School students are being investigated for what the school has termed 'sexual assault' in connection to the incident

Three Kiel Middle School students are being investigated for what the school has termed 'sexual assault' in connection to the incident

Three Kiel Middle School students are being investigated for what the school has termed ‘sexual assault’ in connection to the incident

‘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.”

Asked whether Rabidoux and her son were anti LGBTQ, Rosemary quickly rose the defense of her family.

‘Not at all. Not at all! My children have been raised to love everybody equally,’ she said.

The Kiel School District sees the refusal of students to use particular pronouns as a form of bullying.

‘The KASD prohibits all forms of bullying and harassment in accordance with all laws, including Title IX’ stressing that it will ‘continue to support ALL students regardless of sex (including transgender status, change of sex or gender identity)’

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), are now taking on the case and is defending the students, although it is urging for the case to be dismissed.

'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,' said Luke Berg from the organization

'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,' said Luke Berg from the organization

‘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,’ said Luke Berg from the organization

WILL says the misuse of pronouns is not a part of the school district’s policy or Title IX.

‘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,’ a May 12 letter to the school superintendent, counselor, and principal reads. 

‘The District has also violated Title IX procedures and its own policy in its handling of the complaint. The District should promptly end the investigation, dismiss the complaints, and remove them from each of the boys’ records,’ the letter added. 

‘Mispronouning’ is also not sexual harassment under Title IX because gender identity is not included within the definition of sex within Title IX. In fact, the Department of Education is currently attempting to amend Title IX to add it,’ the letter goes on to explain. 

‘To be clear, this statement does not accurately or fully portray the incidents described—as you know, the student in question has teased the boys as much if not more, including calling them numerous names and yelling at them for not using ‘they/them’ prnouns even when they were not talking to or about her—but even if everything in the music teacher’s statement were accurately characterized, it does not amount to the sort of ‘severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive’ conduct that crosses the line into sexual harassment,’ the letter stated.

‘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,’ said Luke Berg from the organization.

The attorneys go on to note that if the alleged victim student had been teased then such behavior needs to be addressed by school staff and administrators, but ‘none of this warrants accusations of sexual harassment and the serious reputational harm that comes with it.’

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