Three high school students in Wisconsin were charged by school officials with sexual harassment under Title IX for refusing on multiple occasions to address another student with preferred pronouns.
According to the testimony of the mother of one of the defendants, Kiel High School telephoned her to warn her that her son would face accusations of sexual harassment.
“He said he’s being allegedly charged with sexual harassment for not using proper pronouns.” The mother said. “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 mother, who was interviewed by Fox 11, a high school student publicly announced that her preferred pronouns were “they/them”. When one of her son’s friends refused to use them, the student yelled at him and the young man came to his friend’s defense.
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“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, and Braden finally came up defending him, saying he doesn’t have to use proper pronouns, it’s his constitutional right,” the mother explained.
When questioned by the reporter if she or her son had an aversion to the LGBT community, her response was: “Not at all. My children have been raised to love everybody equally.”
To Wisconsin courts?
The mother did not sit idly by and contacted an attorney at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, who soon sent a letter to the institution urging authorities to drop the lawsuit.
“The complaint against these boys, and the District’s ongoing investigation, are wholly inappropriate and should be immediately dismissed”; “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.”
In the letter, the institute accuses the school district of taking advantage of Title IX to control the speech of students, who were also subjected to name-calling and yelling for refusing to use specific pronouns.
For his part, Wisconsin Institute associate attorney Luke Berg said in a statement that such a lawsuit sets a “terrible precedent.”
“School administrators can’t force minor students to comply with their preferred mode of speaking. And they certainly shouldn’t be slapping eighth graders with Title IX investigations for what amounts to protected speech. This is a terrible precedent to set, with enormous ramifications.”
Recently, a similar case ended up in the Ohio courts when a professor sued the public university where he worked after administrators punished him for not using a student’s preferred pronouns.
After a three-year legal battle, the judge ruled in favor of the professor, finding that his rights to free speech and free thought were violated, and ordered the university to pay $400,000 in damages.