A growing trend in public education is the kowtowing of education bureaucrats to the gender pronoun “police.” One of the more recent examples is the case in Wisconsin, where three young middle school boys were accused by the rural Kiel Area School District of “misgendering” a classmate.
The school district is located south of Green Bay and north of Milwaukee and is usually a politically-red area. However, this is concerning that a public school district investigated minor boys for misusing gender pronouns.
AIA first heard about this case from a Wall Street Journal opinion editorial published on May 23, which was penned by the legal representatives for the three young boys’ families at the Wisconsin Law and Liberty Institute. The institute is a conservative non-profit organization which has a history of representing and defending citizens against government overreach in the courts.
The children were investigated for violating Title IX, which is a law that was originally intended to prosecute offenses such as rape, groping, or unwanted sexual advances. According to the district, the Title IX investigation began when three eight-grade boys teased a classmate as a “her” when the classmate wanted to be identified as the pronoun “them.”
But the parents were not warned by the school district about the investigation. According to the parents, the school district called them and informed them that their boys were “about to be charged with sexual harassment under Title IX.” The parents claimed that there “had been no prior warning or discussions with the families about pronoun use at school, nor did the district initially explain what the boys had done to warrant being investigated for a violation of federal law.”
One parent thought, “Is this real? This has to be a joke.” But it was not a joke.
The editorial correctly pointed out that gender pronouns or the alleged misuse of them are not enshrined in U.S. federal code or Wisconsin state statutes, which begs the question of why this is an issue worth investigating. The Wisconsin Law and Liberty Institute made several astute points about the overall case, such as teasing not meeting the standards of denying equal access to education under Title IX regulations.
The parents and their legal representation urged the school district to dismiss the charges, clear the children’s records and change their punitive policy because Title IX regulations must be dismissed if the allegations do not meet the standard for sexual harassment.
But the controversy made national headlines, which may have spurred the district to close the case within ten days of the Wall Street Journal editorial. In a June 2, 2022 letter written by the school district, the district said that they consider “this matter closed.” It also acknowledged that they community and district “have been greatly impacted by media attention related to a complaint involving harassment.” The district claimed that the investigation was consistent with internal policies and procedures and instead “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.”
In short, the district said that it correctly followed policies and procedures to create the investigation, but then closed it after sending an anti-bullying and anti-harassment letter to all of its students and being pressured from the national media attention.
However, what is most concerning is that the practices in Kiel may not be an outlier for long, given the Biden administration’s strong language about transgenderism as it updates Title IX regulations.