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. Speaking of pronouns, we need a new pronoun to replace “you” as a synonym for “anyone”, because
    it can create confusion. When I say “you”, someone might think I am referring to them directly and personally, when
    what I really mean is “anyone”.

    1. The Southern part of our Country has had one already for years and years, but no one in the Northern part uses it because the think it is ::shudder!:: uncouth, improper, and beneath them. The word? “Y’all”.

  2. You are the one being willfully ignorant. You are like a priest who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope. The links are there to be clicked.
    The bottom of each page cites the sources. Here is ONE of the links:

    https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2021/nov/02/tucker-carlson/tucker-carlson-film-falsely-claims-jan-6-pretext-s/

    The Poynter Institute is a reputable organization. The Nelson Poynter Memorial Library is near the insitute on the campus of the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, near the Salvador Dali museum. Information resources galore.

    1. “You are like a priest who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope. ”

      You are like the dope who looked through Galileo’s telescope and described what was beyond the earth in his pseudo-sophisticated way. When he took his bow for his elegant explanation of what he saw, Galileo told him that one first has to remove the lens cap to view.

      I’ll take one point having to do with FBI involvement, not necessarily typical employees of the FBI, but where the FBI has involvement.

      https://www.revolver.news/2021/10/meet-ray-epps-the-fed-protected-provocateur-who-appears-to-have-led-the-very-first-1-6-attack-on-the-u-s-capitol/

  3. Criminals and thugs today can rape women, kill police persons, assault children and senior citizens, burn and loot cities and shoplift stores into bankruptcy, but refuse to use proper pronouns and the man will stick it to you.

  4. What seems to be missing in the analysis in JT’s post and the discussion that has followed is that the Supreme Court in the 2020 Bostock majority opinion written by Gorsuch held that the prohibition of sex discrimination in employment (title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) includes sexual orientation and gender identity. How to apply Bostock to the Title 9 prohibition of sex discrimination in education programs will be a key consideration for the courts in this described pronoun situation and other gender identity situations.

  5. Historically, tyrannical governments have been hierarchical in structure. The founders recognized the tyranny stemmed from such structure, so they designed a new structure.

  6. Gotta love black grifters. These folks give blacks a bad name. Yet the Left defends these black scum

    “BLM founder Patrisse Cullors paid her baby father $970,000 for ‘creative services’, her brother $840,000 for security, a fellow director $2.1m and reimbursed the organization $73,000 for a charter flight”

    Daily Mail

    1. Let’s look at the law and ask ourselves why it wasn’t enforced.

      Oh, yeah, the failed Supreme Court, which has failed to “support” the Constitution since 1860.
      _________________________________________________________________________

      Naturalization Acts of 1790, 1795, 1798 and 1802 (four iterations)

      United States Congress, “An act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” March 26, 1790

      Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof…

  7. – Freedom of speech allows people to insult the King and anyone else – the sun can cause damage so people protect themselves – life is not perfect.

    – Stalking, verbal abuse, harassment, assault and battery are against the law; having opinions is not.

    – Parents teach their children.

    – Children are not the property of the State.

    – Either Article 1, Section 8, severely limits and restricts the power of Congress to tax, or government can do absolutely anything it wants.

    Given that the American Founders “threw off” the dictatorship of the British monarchy – that they were in a mood to free Americans and end most of the government and taxation from Great Britain with a vengeance, I suspect that the American Congress and government cannot do anything they want, and that Article 1, Section 8, limits the power of Congress to tax to “…general Welfare…,” omitting and, thereby, excluding any power to tax for individual or specific welfare, redistribution of wealth, charity, an unconstitutional Department of Education, and, as a corollary, the Department’s Office of Civil Rights, etc., etc., etc., including the balance of the vast communist American welfare state.

    All of the above causing Title IX to be similarly unconstitutional.

    This may come as a surprise to some, but the Founders and Framers left most of life to free, individual, private citizens and to the free market, private sector industries they create and operate.

    Translation: Most of government is unconstitutional.

    The “dictatorship of the proletariat” was introduced in 1848. Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto 59 years after the adoption of the Constitution because none of the principles of the Communist Manifesto were in the Constitution. Had the principles of the Communist Manifesto been in the Constitution, Karl Marx would have had no reason to write the Communist Manifesto. The principles of the Communist Manifesto were not in the Constitution then and the principles of the Communist Manifesto are not in the Constitution now.

    Contributors herein reference the Department of Education and its Office of Civil Rights without citing any power, authority or legal basis in the Constitution to tax for and fund these unconstitutional entities.

    America found out this week that it was wrong; abortion is not a constitutional right.

    America should get the full memo; the entire communist American welfare state is unconstitutional, including the Dept. of Education, Title IX, etc., etc., etc.

    Please, when you want to take money from free American citizens in the form of taxation, please provide a constitutional and legal basis.

    Communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) in America don’t get to do anything and everything they want without regard for the rules, without regard for the Constitution.

    1. Leave education to Mr. Market.

      Leave opinions to children, parents and the free people of the United States, oh, and to their private school, non-union, anti-communist teachers and church pastors.

      American freedom does not include communist enslavement, especially to the likes of the unconstitutional, communist Department of Education.

  8. Jonathan: You have been pretty quiet since you first endorsed Elon Musk’s offer to buy Twitter. You said it would be good for “free speech”. Recent pronouncements by Musk indicate that might not be the case. Musk now says “if there are tweets that are wrong and bad, those should be either deleted or made invisible, and a suspension–a temporary suspension–a temporary suspension is appropriate but not a permanent ban”. Who decides what is “wrong and bad”? Well Elon Musk who knows “wrong and bad” when he sees it. He has already prevented Public Citizen from commenting on his tweets. That’s because Musk thinks Twitter has a “very far-left bias”. He obviously wants to put an end to that and now says his is going to vote the Republican ticket. He wants to invite back to Twitter Donald Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene so they can continue to spew out their tight-wing conspiracy theories. The first thing to go if Musk takes over Twitter will be to impose a “temporary suspension’ on tweets with a “far-left bias”. You can take that to the bank!

    Musk has other problems. He says his purchase of Twitter is “on hold”. He claims Twitter did not tell him 5% of Twitter accounts are “bots” (fake accounts). Musk waived his due diligence so he can hardly complain. Some financial experts think Musk may use the “bot” issue to get out of the deal. Musk is also having a hard time lining up financing for the deal. Tesla investors are unhappy because their stocks have tanked. Twitter shares are also down. Musk may be facing a slew of lawsuits over this deal. Almost every day Musk violates SEC rules because he makes announcements over Twitter rather than making a new SEC filing. Whatever happens Musk is facing a rocky road. Considering all of this do you stand by your support for Musk. When the richest man in the world wants to buy the biggest social media platform that can’t be good for “free speech”.

  9. Oops. Mespostopholes accidentally revealed his social Darwinism and national socialisitic tendencies.

    “Life is a hierarchy.”

    Wasn’t it the point of the Consitution to mitigate this?

    1. What part of the constitution was supposed to “mitigate?”
      Equal treatment, not equal outcome.
      Life is a hierarchy
      Entertainment, proves that.
      CEO’s, prove that.
      Pro Coaches, prove that
      Medicine, proves that.

        1. That’s not “insurrection.” How ’bout Red Hat, “We must GO IN to the Capitol, INSIDE the Capitol?”

          1. You said “Ray ‘Red Hat’ Epps and “Baked Alaska” have not been indicted for “insurrection” or anything else on Jan. 6.” I was just pointing out that “Baked Alaska” has indeed been indicted for other crimes. Of course, you’re too cowardly to admit you were wrong.

  10. When your fellow free people are more tyrannical, controlling, and oppressive than the government, then you are back to square one.

    1. It’s crazy that people who lack intelligence go to a so-called fact site to tell them whether a statement is correct or not. The site doesn’t even explain. That is probably good for low IQ folk who can’t think for themselves, so why confuse them.

      In this case, the fact-checkers were wrong. Anonymous is now happy to be in a brainless state.

  11. **OFF TOPIC** – I just went to fuel my vehicle, after this fill up I’ve decided to start wearing a N95 mask again. This time I’m placing it over my eyes when I fill up to prevent shock at the cost. Getting close to $5 a gal thank you Joey.

      1. Alan, I hope these prices last just long enough to permanently destroy the market for big SUV’s.

        American consumers should have learned long ago to avoid gas-guzzling dinosaurs. Yet it’s a lesson they have to keep re-learning.

        1. “American consumers should have learned long ago to avoid gas-guzzling dinosaurs.”

          Why? It seems that the real thing to say is American consumers should have learned long ago to avoid letting democrats pretend to run the country.

        2. So instead of one mother picking up hers and her neighbor’s children in one car, they both go in two different vehicles. You are anti-family and very hateful. As you say, you want to “destroy.”

        3. American consumers should have learned long ago to avoid gas-guzzling dinosaurs.

          Why? Americans can drive whatever they want.

          1. Be careful, Upstate. That anonymous is a crazed Obama supporter. He wants you to walk the pigs to the slaughterhouse and put a balloon under their tail ends to collect all the methane released while you are at it. Be happy that he will permit you to raise hogs.

            If you sniff glue, you too can start to think like him.

      1. California has a socio-politico death wish.
        They keep shooting themselves in the foot, until they burn through all the good the state has to offer.
        Something like Venezuela.

    1. I love it when I see on the gas pump display
      the Joe Biden stickers that say “I did that!”

  12. Lets say that you have twenty kids in a class and five of them want to be called by a different pronoun. So when the teacher is diligently trying to instruct her motley crew she has to try to remember the different pronoun that applies to what student instead of conveying the knowledge that her students will need to have to help them gain success in life. If she refuses to take the time away from her duty to instruct she will soon be called before the tribunal. Next will come her re-education class. This case is proof that I am not overstating the dangers initiated by the control freaks on the left. Ridiculous is an understatement.

  13. Sorry, but at what point do we acknowledge that whatever the case with matriculating students (and that could be a post in itself) modern universities are thoroughly just indoctrination houses and a waste of money? Left, right, pfft. These kids are no longer getting an education in any sense of the word. In spite of what Obama said, a degree does not magically imbue a person with anything resembling self-sufficiency whatsoever, and these days, kids are probably better off pursuing a trade. At this point a degree is pretty much just a grocery receipt, no matter the cost or profession (See? i paid my money. Give me my goods!), even the advanced ones. A modern Phd is pretty much passing 8th grade a generation ago. Stop giving them your money. I buy a head of lettuce most weeks and the cost is far, far less than a college education yet somehow metaphorically equal. Law students should know better than to think their tweets are copyrighted material. This is a bad, bad joke that has gotten serious because people were too cowardly and/or asleep to the extent they couldn’t say it was a joke 15+ years ago. We reap what we sow, and at large we most definitely sowed this.

    1. Thinkthrough and James have the same inkblot handle. No coincidence! They are the same Blog Stooge.

  14. Lets turn this around. What if a group of students, with the intent to offend and insult, refer to a female student using he/him pronouns. She asks them to stop and they do not. It is their belief that she is not feminine enough to use she/her pronouns. Would it be valid for the school to impose disciple for harassment and creating a hostile educational environment?

    I would say “yes” to above.

    1. What does that have to do with title IX? Are you unfamiliar with the topic? Read the following to get up to speed.

      “Middle school students “are still learning how to interact appropriately with their peers,” and “often engage in insults, banter, teasing, shoving, pushing, and [even] gender-specific conduct.” Davis, 526 U.S. at 651. Such conduct is certainly inappropriate, and if the boys did tease the other student, that can and should be dealt with through the ordinary disciplinary process (though the District needs to treat both sides equally when the teasing goes both ways). But none of this warrants accusations of sexual harassment and the serious reputational harm that comes with it. The District’s policy and Title IX regulations require it to immediately dismiss a complaint “if the conduct alleged,” “even if proved,” “would not constitute sexual harassment.” 34 CFR § 106.45(b)(3)(i); District Policy 2266 at 10. That is true here on the face of the complaint, so it should be dismissed and the investigation closed.”

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