Wisconsin Files Complaints Against Three Students Who Refused to Use Approved “Pronouns”

Conflicts over pronoun use have been rising around the country. There is a potentially important free speech case developing in Wisconsin. In Kiel, Wisconsin, three eighth graders are facing a Title IX complaint due to their failure to use plural pronouns “they/them” to refer to a single student. Indeed, it is reminiscent of the recent litigation involving a teacher in Loudoun County, Virginia. When the litigation involving teacher Byron “Tanner” Cross was unfolding, I noted that the most difficult such case for the district would be to impose such rules on students. This seems to be precisely that case in Wisconsin.

According to reports, the students allege that they were subject to verbal attacks for refusing to use the approved pronouns.

Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty demanded that the district stop the Title IX investigation. They assert that “[t]he 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.”

The pronoun controversy is mired in deep-seated religious and free speech issues. Many object to the use of such pronouns for reasons ranging from religious convictions to simple grammar. There is room for accommodation in allowing students and teachers to use first or last names. However, some pronoun use will inevitably occur. The question is whether the district can compel students to adopt such usage.

We discussed how Shawnee State recently settled a case brought by a professor over the compelled use of pronouns.

The Sixth Circuit noted that, as stated in Speech First, Inc. v. Schlissel, 939 F.3d 756, 761 (6th Cir. 2019), “Universities have historically been fierce guardians of intellectual debate and free speech.”  It reversed a district court’s ruling by Judge Dlott that a professor’s speech in the classroom is not protected by the First Amendment. Accordingly, it held that “Meriwether has plausibly alleged that Shawnee State violated his First Amendment rights by compelling his speech or silence and casting a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom, his free-speech claim may proceed.”

Adopting a position similar to the Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Circuits, the appellate panel ruled:

“[O]ur court has rejected as ‘totally unpersuasive’ ‘the argument that teachers have no First Amendment rights when teaching, or that the government can censor teacher speech without restriction.’ Hardy v. Jefferson Cmty. Coll., 260 F.3d 671, 680 (6th Cir. 2001). And we have recognized that ‘a professor’s rights to academic freedom and freedom of expression are paramount in the academic setting.’ Bonnell v. Lorenzo, 241 F.3d 800, 823 (6th Cir. 2001); see Dambrot v. Cent. Mich. Univ., 55 F.3d 1177, 1188–89 (6th Cir. 1995). Simply put, professors at public universities retain First Amendment protections at least when engaged in core academic functions, such as teaching and scholarship. See Hardy, 260 F.3d at 680.”

The ruling is a major recognition and defense of free speech rights for faculty in classrooms.

The Wisconsin case does not involve an employee but students.

In 2020, the Department of Education confirmed in a letter to a member of Congress that:

“By itself, refusing to use transgender students’ preferred pronouns is not a violation of Title IX and would not trigger a loss of funding or other sanctions. To the extent any prior OCR subregulatory guidance, field instructions, or communications are inconsistent with this approach, they are inoperative. However, sex-based harassment, including that predicated on sex stereotyping, is covered by Title IX if it is sufficiently serious to deny or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an education program or activity. Thus, harassing a student-including acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility-based on the student’s failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity can constitute discrimination on the basis of sex under Title IX in certain circumstances. Schools have a responsibility to protect students against such harassment.”

This year, the Biden Administration issued a Notice of Interpretation declaring an intention to enforce Title IX’s prohibition on sex-based discrimination to include prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Wisconsin parents previously sued the state for a policy that allows their children to change their names and pronouns without parental consent.

This all sets up a major challenge over the required use of pronouns and whether such language is protected under the First Amendment.

122 thoughts on “Wisconsin Files Complaints Against Three Students Who Refused to Use Approved “Pronouns””

  1. This is a violation of the First Amendment, and harassment. It is grammatically, and scientifically, incorrect to refer to a single person as “they.”

    I have great sympathy for anyone who suffers from gender dysphoria, body integrity disorder, racial imposter syndrome, or any other condition in which the patient feels distressed by the reality of their own body and genes. There is actually a variety of conditions that lead to this feeling.

    These people deserve compassion and support. That ends, however, when activists attempt to force speech on anyone else. We all form our own opinions about the people we encounter. To try to force the entire world to address you exactly as you view yourself is entitled and immature thinking.

    If these students have a definition for a woman, and that definition is XX, then they have every right to apply that definition. At least they can define the word.

    We are seeing insanity overtake the country. Medical doctors questioned by Congress are unable to define the simple concept of “woman”, one that has existed since the dawn of human speech. It is not slander to say garbage stinks. One mother interviewed received a written warning that her son would be charged with a sex offense, for calling a biological female a “she” and refusing to consider her a plural.

    Split personality disorder is now rampant on social media, with sufferers demanding to be addressed as a System, a plurality, rather than a single person. Some seek to force everyone to consider their delusion real, that they are really possessed by multiple entities, some of which have a variety of genders. Mandating that everyone address these people as plural systems is not far fetched, given the mania for transgender politics in schools.

    How did this go from ensuring children who suffered from gender dysphoria had a private space to change clothes and use a restroom, into criminalizing calling biological females “she”?

    This is what you get from the Left. There is no common sense. I’m so tired of this.

  2. Jonathan: You missed something in the news today. Starting today America’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is holding its annual meeting in Budapest. Why Hungary when Paris is beautiful and London is nice? Well, because CPAC wants to celebrate one of the most authoritarian leaders and in the world and anti-Semite–Victor Orban. The Hungarian Prime Minister will be the keynote speaker. For some time Fox’s Tucker Carlson and other right-GOP politicians have extolled the virtues of the Hungarian strongman. Steve Bannon calls Orban “Trump before Trump”. There is a reason Carlson backs Orban. Carlson’s father, Richard Carlson, heads a lobbying firm, that lobbies for Orban. Last August Carlson spent a week broadcasting his nightly show from Budapest–conducting fawning interviews with Orban.

    Since he first came to power in 2018 Orban has centralized power, changed election laws in his favor, promoted white Christian nationalism, passed anti-LGBTQ legislation and cracked down on freedom of the press. CPAC sees Orban’s rule as a blueprint for what they would like to see here at home. Budapest has become the center of corruption and organized crime. Orban has close ties with Russia’s mafia–figures like Semion Mogilevich, the “Don” of Russia’s organized crime. Last month the DOJ put out a $5 million reward for the arrest of Mogilevich “for his alleged participation in a scheme that defrauded thousands of investors out of more than $150 million”. Mogilevich, working out of Budapest, is alleged to oversee a vast organization of arms dealing, contract murder, drug trafficking, stock swindles, extortion and sex trafficking.

    Orban’s crack down on “free speech” should concern you. Apparently not. Probably because if you criticized Orban that might jeopardize your paid gig at Fox.

  3. Persons who claim that “their” pronouns thus and so, yet continue to use “I, me, mine” when referring to themselves, and tolerate “you, your, yours” from someone they are speaking to, are just blowing smoke. They are trying to control how people speak about them to others, which is unconscionable. To the extent that the whole pronoun debate is political, they are seeking to compel others to make a political statement on their behalf, which is completely unacceptable.

    The compelled political speech argument may have some merit, perhaps?

  4. The impossible vipers are what make this viper pit so unattractive. I leave you to bite each other to your heart’s content, assuming that you have one. I would rather sit in a jacuzzi. Peace out.

    1. David Duke is David Duke.

      Tucker Carlson is Tucker Carlson.

      You have not the courage of your convictions.

      You are nothing, nothing but a shrinking violet.

      Anonymous, nay, all anonymice must be BANNED FOR LIFE.

    2. “David Duke supported Russia, too, just like Tucker Carlson does.”
      So did Obama. Is he bad, too? Your examples and arguments are just plain amazingly dumb.

  5. Matching. Match the speakers with their statements.

    Entrants who correctly match all five items will be entered in a drawing to win an expense paid course in political re-education, courtesy of Nina Jankowicz and the Ministry of Truth. Runners up will receive a courtesy home visit from the Department of Homeland Security.

    1. Darrell E. Brooks, Jr., 39 year-old black male charged with first degree murder for the deaths of 6 people and for injuring 62 others in the Wauskesha Christmas Parade Terror Attack

    2. Chuck Schumer, Democrat Senate Majority Leader, speaking on the steps of the United States Supreme Court

    3. Frank Robert James, 62 year-old black male jailed for terrorism in connection with the brutal, premediated Brooklyn Subway Station Terror Attack

    4. Nancy Pelosi, Democrat Speaker of the House, addressing the violent destruction of public property by Democrat activists

    5. James T. Hodgkinson, 66 year-old Democratic fanatic and Bernie Sanders supporter who opened fire on the Republican Congressional baseball team, critically injuring Congressman Steve Scalise

    A. I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price! You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.

    B. Why should a n***ger be alive on this planet? Besides to pick cotton or chop sugar cane or tobacco . . . And so the message to me is: I should have gotten a gun, and just started shooting motherf***rs

    C. Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.

    D. People will do what they do.

    E. LEARNED ND TAUGHT BEHAVIOR..so when we start bakk knokkin white people TF out ion wanna hear it..the old white ppl 2, KNOKK DEM TF OUT!! PERIOD.

    1. Direct Action. By Any Means Necessary. Euphemisms for politically inspired violence. Of the sort approved by Democrats.

      For the last 15 years, the left has developed an ever more radical ideology built on a foundation of victimhood, anger, and resentment. Resentment based on income. Remember Obama’s one percenters? The ones with more than their fair share. Resentment based on race. Black people deserve reparations. Why? To get back what the racists stole from them. Resentment based on political viewpoint. Resentment based on gender. Resentment based on sexuality. Resentment based on religion.

      Anger and resentment are incredibly powerful political tools. But once unleashed, they are virtually impossible to control. The surge in leftist violence – actual, deadly physical violence – is the inevitable outcome of this depressing, deranged ideology. The left is blind to it. If not literally blind, they avert their eyes from it. When it gets too hard to avert their eyes, they suppress it. By any means necessary.

      But Americans can see it. With each new incident, they see, with ever increasing clarity, the horrific damage that is been done to our country. Americans recognize that the way forward is to reject the arbitrary and harmful divisions espoused by the progressive left. Americans are taking their country back. Together. Peacefully.

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