A Wisconsin school district has charged three eighth-grade boys with sexual harassment and has initiated a Title IX investigation associated with these charges. This type of accusation is normally tied to rape or other unwanted sexual advances. If convicted, the damage to a young man’s reputation and future can be devastating.
When the boys’ parents got the call from Kiel Area School District authorities — their first notice of the charges — they were understandably terrified. To qualify as sexual harassment under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the conduct must be “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to education.” According to an op-ed the boys’ attorneys wrote for The Wall Street Journal, the district didn’t “initially explain what the boys had done to warrant being investigated for a violation of federal law.”
As Rick Esenberg and Luke Berg of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty explain in the Journal, the boys were accused of something called “mispronouning,” defined as “using incorrect pronouns.” Apparently, the attorneys write, “These children used ‘her’ to refer to a classmate who wants to be called ‘them.’” The attorneys point out that these allegations, even if proven, would not qualify as sexual harassment. The district, they write “should have dismissed the complaint immediately.”
That was true at the end of April. But the Biden Administration has been signaling for months it plans to implement a rule change expanding Title IX to require schools to update non-discrimination policies that currently protect female students. This would not be a law but a decree by the administration elevating sexual orientation and gender identity to receive these protections.
When that happens, if “misgendering” individuals is shoehorned into the sexual harassment category, teachers and students who refuse to call a transgender person by their preferred pronoun could face federal charges.
This is coming to a school near you.