A Wisconsin school district has filed sexual harassment complaints against three middle schoolers for calling a classmate by a wrong pronoun.
The school district in Kiel, a city of 3,600 residents, has charged the three eighth-graders at the Kiel Middle School with sexual harassment after an incident in April in which the students refused to use "they" to refer to a classmate who had switched pronouns a month before the alleged incident, according to reports.
"I received a phone call from the principal …forewarning me, letting me know that I was going to be receiving an email with sexual harassment allegations against my son," said Rosemary Rabidoux, whose 13-year-old son Braden is one of the students charged with sexual harassment.
"I immediately went into shock," she continued in an interview with FOX 11. "I'm thinking sexual harassment? That's rape, that's inappropriate touching, that's incest. What has my son done?"
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is defending the accused students, and claims that misuse of pronouns is not covered by Title IX, the US Education Department's statute that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education.
"Title IX sexual harassment typically covers things like rape, dating violence, quid pro quo sexual favors — really egregious stuff," WILL's deputy counsel Luke Berg told the network. "There's nothing even remotely close to that alleged in this case."
The school board of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) in Fairfax, Virginia, is reviewing updated rules that could potentially expose students to suspension or expulsion for "maliciously misgendering" their peers based on "frequency and intensity."
The Fairfax County Public Schools Students Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) handbook, which will be voted on May 26, includes in its updated version rules that make "malicious deadnaming" and "malicious misgendering" of classmates a Level 4 offense, which allows for a suspension up to five days "if frequency and intensity are present," according to page 19 of the document.
"Using slurs based upon the actual or perceived gender identity" is forbidden under the rules of the document, "which includes, but is not limited to, malicious deadnaming or malicious misgendering."
The document defines "deadnaming" as "when someone, intentionally or not, refers to a person who is transgender or gender-expansive by a name other than their own chosen name."
The handbook explains that "Level 4 responses" include individualized intervention that often requires disciplinary action. The principal is able to refer such violations to the superintendent, which the document says "may result in a number of different responses based on circumstances and rarely results in an expulsion."