KIEL, Wis. (WLUK) — An investigation was launched into three middle school students in Wisconsin accused of calling classmates by their wrong pronouns.
The school district has filed a Title IX complaint against the Kiel Middle School students, accusing them of sexual harassment for using incorrect pronouns when addressing another student.
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,” Rosemary Rabidoux, one of the parents of the students being accused 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’s 13-year-old son Braden is one of the three eighth-grade Kiel Middle School students accused of sexual harassment — something she disputes.
“(The investigating principal) said he’s being allegedly charged with sexual harassment for not using proper pronouns,” said Rabidoux. “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.”
According to the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), now defending the accused students, in March, one of their peers announced the pronouns they'd prefer to be addressed as — they/them.
One of the alleged incidents Braden and the others were supposedly involved in happened in late April.
“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 kind of just sunk down into his chair,” Rabidoux 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.’”
Some say this could show Rabidoux and her son are against the LGBTQ + community.
“Not at all. Not at all!” said Rabidoux. “My children have been raised to love everybody equally.”
Shortly after finding out her son was being investigated, Rabidoux reached out to WILL.
Title IX sexual harassment typically covers things like rape, dating violence, quid pro quo sexual favors; really egregious stuff,” WILL deputy counsel Luke Berg said. “There’s nothing even remotely close to that alleged in this case.”
WILL says the misuse of pronouns is not a part of the school district’s policy or Title IX.
“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.”
WLUK News reached out to the Kiel School District.
It provided a statement, saying: “The KASD prohibits all forms of bullying and harassment in accordance with all laws, including Title IX” It goes on to say that it will “continue to support ALL students regardless of sex (including transgender status, change of sex or gender identity)”
WILL issued a letter to administrators at the Kiel School District to drop the Title IX complaint and investigation against three eighth-grade boys.