School district finally ends sexual harassment investigation into 3 students accused of ‘mispronouning’

A conservative legal group is praising a Wisconsin school district for dropping a sexual harassment probe against three students but noted that officials are still attempting to “reframe the investigation.”

“We are pleased that the Kiel Area School District has finally ended its misguided Title IX investigation,” said the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative legal group representing the three middle school students who were accused of misgendering other students.

“While the District’s statement attempts to reframe the investigation, it was always primarily about ‘mispronouning,’” Deputy Counsel Luke Berg added in the statement. “The District may not be willing to admit it publicly, but it has recognized that it has no legal basis to demand that our clients refrain from ‘mispronouning’ other students.”

The small town’s school district, which has a total enrollment of almost 1,200 students, announced that it was ending its Title IX inquiry of three eighth-grade boys, adding that it had issued “clear directives and expectations” for students moving forward.

“Over the last several weeks, our school district and community have been greatly impacted by media attention related to a complaint involving harassment,” the school board said in a statement. “One major concern at this point is that threats continue, to not only the schools but the Kiel Community. We have worked hard to find a resolution. With that said, we are writing to share with you that consistent with our Board policies and procedures, we have issued clear directives and expectations to all students involved in this matter for the purpose of preventing bullying and harassment and ensuring a safe and supportive learning environment for all of our students.”

The investigation was launched after the students were accused of sexual harassment for using “incorrect pronouns” with another student, according to the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) which sent a letter to the Kiel Area School District last month noting that “the mere use of biologically correct pronouns not only does not constitute sexual harassment under Title IX or the District’s own policy, but is speech protected by the First Amendment.”

According to WILL:

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 was 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—was alleged in the complaint.

 

In the wake of the Title IX inquiry, the Kiel school system experienced several bomb threats and other incidents which led to the decision to hold classes virtually for the remainder of the school year.

Oe of the parents and student joined attorney Berg on “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News last month to discuss the probe.


(Video: YouTube/WILL)

“While we are glad that the District has ended its investigation, this dispute should have never been escalated to this point. We expect the Kiel Area School District to ensure that this Title IX complaint is not on my son’s record. We are thankful to our friends, family, and community for their support,” Rose Rabidoux, a parent of one of the boys, said after the district’s announcement, according to WBAY.

WILL President Rick Esenberg “publicly condemned” the violent acts and bomb threats but had reiterated that the school district was wrong in its move.

“However well-intentioned the school district might be, we agree with the families and have carefully explained our position,” he tweeted. “Literally making a federal case out of using the correct (but not preferred) pronoun is not only legally wrong. This was not about ‘bullying.’ The district’s insistence that one must conform at all times is, sadly, an act of aggression in what are called ‘the culture wars.’ These families had no obligation to submit or to be silent. To the contrary, the district deserved to be challenged for its actions.”

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