Wisconsin Middle Schoolers Sued for Sexual Harassment for Not Using Preferred Pronouns

L.G.B.T. activists and their supporters rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall, October 24, 2018 in New York City. The group gathered to speak out against the Trump administration's stance toward transgender people. Last week, The New York Times reported on an unreleased …
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Three Wisconsin middle schoolers are being sued for sexual harassment by their school district for refusing to use the “they/them” pronouns when referring to another student.

According to the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) — which is representing the defendants — the three eighth grade boys are being sued under Title IX for using “incorrect pronouns” in their Kiel Area School District.

“The District’s position appears to be that once a student informs others of alternate, preferred pronouns, any subsequent ‘mispronouning’ automatically constitutes punishable sexual harassment under Title IX,” a press release from WILL stated, explaining that the boys were simply using the “biologically correct” pronouns.

“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,” a WILL letter to administrators states.

Attorneys at WILL argue that forcing children to use biologically — and grammatically — incorrect pronouns amounts to a First Amendment violation and is an attempt by the school district to broaden the scope of Title IX so as to limit student speech. The district also appears to protect administrators who use proper pronouns in contravention of their interpretation of Title IX.

“The use of ‘they/them’ pronouns, in particular, is awkward, grammatically incorrect, and, until recently, unheard of,” the letter goes on. “Indeed, illustrating how difficult it is to refer to a single person as a ‘they/them,’ our clients have frequently heard the Title IX investigator, teachers, other staff, and students refer to the student in question using she/her pronouns.”

WILL deputy counsel Luke Berg commented on the case in a press release, saying the school district is “slapping eighth graders with Title IX investigations for what amounts to protected speech.”

“School administrators can’t force minor students to comply with their preferred mode of speaking,” Berg said. “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.”

Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.