Misgendering Myths, Facts, and Mayhem: What You Should Know About the Kiel, Wisconsin Title IX Case

Yesterday was the first day of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month. At Thompson & Horton, we will recognize Pride Month alongside the 50th Anniversary of Title IX with free weekly webinars throughout June (Thursdays at 1 p.m. starting today!) and blog posts focused on Title IX, including LGBTQ+ issues facing schools, colleges, and universities.

Perhaps the hottest story in the Title IX/LGBTQ+ world right now involves Kiel Area School District. The Wisconsin school district has received multiple bomb threats and tremendous media attention and scrutiny regarding complaints against three eighth-grade students alleged to have created a hostile environment for a peer by refusing to use the student’s preferred pronouns. As with many things “Title IX,” untangling the truth from the fiction can be a challenge, particularly when there is so much pandemonium around the case. Here’s what you need to know about this case and how it might impact your school, college, or university.

Call-Out and Cancel Culture and Title IX: How Should Educational Institutions Respond?

It’s happening across the country at all levels of education. Students from schools, colleges, and universities are taking to Twitter, Instagram, and other social media and online platforms to call out other students or employees for alleged sexual harassment and abuse. A recent situation involving the University of Utah is just one example. The university suspended Greek activity after two students reported sexual assault and others posted anonymously about their experiences online. A similar account at Atascadero High School in California raised similar issues (pages 4-5) and drew significant attention. Of course, call-outs are not limited to the online sphere; there are plenty of cases in which steps are taken to call out or cancel individuals alleged of sexual harassment in the brick and mortar schoolhouse. There is no doubt that a call-out can put a school in a difficult predicament, especially when social media magnifies the reach. How can—and should—schools respond when an alleged perpetrator believes call-ous or cancel posts cross the line into harassment or bullying?

Instas, Snaps, Yik Yaks, and Sex: When Is a Post Title IX Sexual Harassment?

The issue comes up all too frequently—a student shows up to an administrator’s office to report that they found something terrible about them online. Sometimes it’s sexually harassing language and bullying. Or it’s a person sharing photos or videos of their ex online after a breakup. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, perhaps it’s an account on which people can anonymously “expose” accused perpetrators of sexual harassment, including sexual violence and assault—and the alleged perpetrators report that it’s just not true. How do educational leaders distinguish between sexual harassment and more benign activity on Instagram, Snapchat, (the newly reemerging) Yik Yak, and the like?