Many years ago, a close friend was accused of sexual harassment by a co-worker. My buddy was a well-compensated executive for a Fortune 500 company where the division he led had exceeded its goals for several years running and he was on the corporate ‘fast-track.’ Then came the accusation. Now, to be clear, I wasn’t present at the time the women accused him of sexually harassing her and have only my friend’s account of what occurred. However, knowing what do about my friend, I cannot imagine him, under any circumstances, making any type of harassing comment.
Shortly after the incident my buddy informed me, he was entertaining offers with several other firms, which came as a bit of a surprise with me considering how highly regarded he was within his company. However, being somewhat of a superstar within his own industry he was continuously pursued by head-hunters but chose to stay with his current company for a variety of reasons, including generous stock options.
So, when Nick told me he was ‘looking,’ I asked him if the “heavies” had come down on him from corporate and he said “No, not in the least, most of them know me well enough to know this is bogus.” So, I asked him why he was thinking of leaving the company. He said, “Butch, the accusation was made, and the stain is indelible, it’s like being accused of being a child molester, regardless of the facts once you’re accused that patina stays with you, and my reputation within the company has been irretrievably damaged.”
Fast-forward to April 25th, 2022, when the Kiel Area (Wisconsin) School Board accused three eighth-grade boys of sexual harassment for something called “mis-pronouning” and launched a Title IX investigation. (Re-read the last sentence in case you missed it, it’s not “mis-pronouncing”, with a ‘c,’ the word is “pro-NOUNing.”) Yup, these three hooligans committed the unspeakable crime of using the pronoun “her” to refer to a classmate who wanted to be called “them.”
For those unfamiliar, Title IX is the commonly used name for the federal civil rights law that was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. It prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government. For most people, a “Title IX investigation” calls to mind allegations of rape, groping, unwanted sexual advances, or a pervasive pattern of verbal abuse. But apparently, the Kiel Area School District in Wisconsin has uncovered a new form of sexual harassment—using the wrong pronoun!
I did a bit of fact-checking and could not find the crime of “mis-pronouning” in the Wisconsin statutes nor in the U.S. code. Nonetheless, fairness compels us to ask if this “crime” resembles the egregious aggression that is normally associated with sexual harassment. And for those who haven’t read it, to be in violation of Title IX, the offending individual(s) conduct must be, “…so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to education.” Obviously, the school board felt that calling someone she instead of they denied the young woman, i.e., the non-binary “they” equal access to education
It’s doubtful such a charge would stand the test of the legal system, but in today’s woke world, the mere fact of being accused of such a heinous crime is tantamount to guilt, and such a charge, as ridiculous as it is, could do lasting damage to these boys’ reputations.
Unfortunately, many schools are now pushing students to use preferred pronouns. However, there is another school of thought that believes when we combine a school environment where a young person can achieve status and popularity by declaring a trans identity, with the teenage temptation to stick it to mom & dad and then add the intoxicating influence of social media where trans activists push the idea that identifying as trans will cure a teen’s problems, what we get is a fast-spreading social contagion.
To be clear, gender dysphoria is real (although the LGBTQ community abhors the term dysphoria) but it’s also true are few studies that conclusively define any aspect of subject. (As a sidebar, in doing my own research, I could not find a single peer reviewed study on the subject – none, zero, zilch, nada.
Now considering that one of the prime responsibilities of educators is to provide guidance and advice to students on social matters, one would think (and hope) that a school board would put the interests of its students ahead of ideology and refrain from arbitrarily imposing a penalty for an “infraction” predicated on fashion rather than fact; a charge that could adversely affect these 13-year-olds for life should the term “accused of sexual harassment” ever appear anywhere on their school records.
Just something to think about…
Quote of the day: “The best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words.”—John Milton