Wisconsin school district accuses students of ‘sexual harassment’ for not using classmate’s ‘preferred pronouns’

Middle school students didn't use their classmate's "preferred pronouns." They now face sexual harassment accusations leveled under Title IX.

Kiel Middle School (Google Maps/Screenshot)

A public school district in Wisconsin has filed a Title IX sexual harassment complaint against three middle school students whom they accuse of refusing to use a classmate’s “preferred pronouns.”

Rosemary Rabidoux, the mother of one of the eighth-grade students, spoke to local station about the April incident allegedly involving her son Braden, as well as her reaction to the district’s complaint.

“[The classmate] 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,” she told the news station. “Braden finally came up, defending him, saying, ‘He doesn’t have to use proper pronouns, it’s his constitutional right to not use [them], you can’t make him say things.'”

Rabidoux said she was stunned to receive a phone call from Chad Ramminger, principal of Zielanis Elementary School and the district’s Title IX investigator, about the impending sexual harassment accusations against her son. She initially thought the accusations could amount to something as serious as “inappropriate touching” or even “rape.”

But when Ramminger told her the accusations were about improper pronoun usage, Rabidoux thought it was a “joke.”

“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,” she said.

Alpha News has requested comment from Kiel Area School District leadership and board members on the merits of the complaint. An automated reply from Ramminger’s email address said the district “disabled” his account on Friday, May 13.

Just the day before, on May 12, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) sent a letter to the district demanding a dismissal of its complaint against the three students.

WILL, representing the students and their families, argued that failing to use a student’s “preferred pronouns” neither violates Title IX, nor the district’s own sexual harassment policy.

“Sexual harassment, as defined in both Title IX and the 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 — is alleged here,” the letter reads.

“While there is a catchall for ‘unwelcome conduct’ that is ‘so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to education,’ … courts have made clear that this high standard does not cover ‘commonplace schoolyard altercations, [such as] name-calling, teasing, and minor physical scuffles’…” the letter continues.

WILL also accuses the district of a “fishing expedition to find evidence of sexual harassment” and “weaponizing its Title IX process to strong-arm minor students into compliance with its preferred mode of speech.”

“This is wrong and illegal,” the letter adds.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.