July 24, 2023 | By William Osmulski
Policy Issues
Culture Education

Wisconsin Gripped By LGBT Culture Wars

Over the past few months, Wisconsin has become a key battleground in the LGBT culture war, with local news stories increasingly grabbing national headlines.

Over the past few months, Wisconsin has become a key battleground in the LGBT culture war, with local news stories increasingly grabbing national headlines.

These stories all involve children and most of them involve Title IX, a federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding. It was created to ensure girls had equal access to educational and sports opportunities. These days, it’s often used by the LGBT community against girls. That wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of the US Department of Education and the court system, which consistently rule in their favor.

Wisconsin parents and conservative lawmakers aren’t taking that lying down. They’re pushing back with lawsuits, complaints, and legislation of their own – and the national media is taking notice of that too. Here are some of the key stories from Wisconsin about this culture clash over the past year.

A first-grade teacher in Waukesha stole the national spotlight in March when she tried to make an LGBT statement with her students. Melissa Tempel planned on having them sing the pop-song “Rainbowland” at their spring concert. The district correctly recognized the song was too controversial to have first-graders singing it. She and others claimed the district was overreacting and that it was just an innocent song. The school district recommended less ambiguous songs about rainbows that are more appropriate for first graders like the Muppets’ song “Over the Rainbow.” Tempel flatly rejected those suggestions.

The narrative of a school district overreacting about an innocent song was upended when Tempel herself tweeted “The Rainbowland story is about much more than a banned song. The result of the political pushback on LGBTQ+ inclusivity and rights in schools is unfolding and it’s tragic.”

Tempel was placed on leave. Then, after publicly criticizing the district for several months, the school board voted unanimously to fire her on July 12th. She now plans to sue the district for violating her First Amendment Rights. She’s raised over $42,000 on GoFundMe to support that lawsuit.

Dane County Becomes a Sanctuary County

In June, Dane County became the first county in the country to declare itself a sanctuary for “transgender and nonbinary individuals.” The board of supervisors approved the resolution on a 25-1 vote (with 11 members not voting.)

The county does not have the authority to override state laws, but the county doesn’t believe it has an obligation to enforce those state laws.

The resolution directed that “if the state of Wisconsin passes a law that imposes criminal 55 or civil punishments, fines, or professional sanctions on any person or organization that seeks, 56 provides, receives or helps someone to receive gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers, 57 hormones or surgery, the Dane County Board of Supervisors urges the Sheriff to make 58 enforcement their lowest priority.”

Milwaukee County is now considering its own transgender sanctuary resolution.

Rhinelander School District Ordered to Retrain Students and Staff

An XY-transgender student in Rhinelander apparently was harassed by fellow students so badly teachers had to remove him from the classroom and put him on a special independent study track. The family moved out of town, but not before his mother filed a complaint with the US Department of Education.

The story made national news earlier this month.

The complaint alleged that teachers were using the wrong name and pronouns for the student and the district failed to protect the transgender student from bullying.

The Department of Education determined that the district was violating the sexual harassment provisions of Title IX. The report explained “a recipient violates Title IX if it excludes a student from participation in, denies a student the benefits of, or otherwise subjects a student to discrimination on the basis of sex under an education program or activity operated by a recipient of federal financial assistance.”

It’s interesting to note that the US Department of Education applies the law’s “sexual harassment” provisions to incidents involving “gender identity,” even though the National Institutes of Health (NIH) consider “sex” and “gender” to be two completely different concepts. According to NIH, gender is a social construct while sex is a “biological phenomena.”

Those facts could have led to an interesting discussion about transgenderism and Title IX had the district chose to push back. Instead, on July 6, the Rhinelander School District agreed to the fed’s corrective action plan. It includes retraining for all staff on Title IX and education programs about “sex-based harassment” for all students. If the student chooses to return to the school, the district needs to provide him with a dedicated staff member to provide support and report problems. That seems like an unlikely scenario since the student and his family have already relocated to another Wisconsin community.

Mukwonago’s School Bathrooms

On July 6th, a federal judge ordered the Mukwonago school district to allow an 11-year-old XY-transgender student to use the girls’ bathroom.

The student was born a boy, but his parents determined he was really a girl when he was 3-years-old. The family moved to Mukwonago when he was in third grade, and he had been using the girls’ bathroom ever since. School policy, however, does not allow boys to use the girls’ bathroom, and this past spring, local parents forced the school district to enforce that policy. The transgender student’s family sued, and Judge Lynn Adelman issued a temporary injunction in their favor. It prevents the school district from enforcing its bathroom policy. He said not allowing a transgender student to use the bathroom of their choice is a violation of Title IX.

Sun Prairie Allows “Expanded” Access to Girls’ Showers

An 18-year-old XY-transgender student exposed his genitals and took a shower with four freshmen girls after swim class this past spring. The girls had no idea he was transgender until he said “I’m trans, by the way.”

The incident was reported to the associate principal and the principal as sexual harassment, which should have then been assigned to the district’s Title IX coordinator. It is unknown whether that ever happened.

The girls’ families were outraged and spoke out at a school board meeting in April. They then filed a Title IX complaint against the school district in June with the US Department of Education. They complaint alleges that the adult student isn’t even transgender.

Additionally, the school’s official locker room policy states that “A student who is transgender, nonbinary, or gender expansive will be permitted to access the men’s/women’s segregated restrooms in accordance with the student’s gender identity that the student regularly asserts at school and in other social environments.”

According to the LGBT community, “The term gender expansive is increasingly being used for people who challenge cultural expectations regarding gender roles, identities, expressions or norms.” Under that definition and the school’s policy, it would be acceptable for a straight male to shower with girls in the girls’ locker room if he categorized his desire to watch girls shower as part of his need to expand beyond a traditional male sexual identity.

Madison’s Naked Bike Ride Invites Children to Participate

Madison’s annual Naked Bike Ride claims to be a climate change protest, but it is indistinguishable from any other obscene LGBT event taking place during Pride Month.

As Senate President Chris Kapenga pointed out “it’s part of a growing trend to sexualize our children.”

The event is exactly what it sounds like. Hundreds of people ride through the streets on bikes completely naked. Plenty of children get an eyeful every year, and there’s little their families can do to avoid it other than staying home all day. Organizers change the route every year and keep it secret.

This year children weren’t only exposed to public indecency; they were a part of it. A naked, ten-year-old girl was spotted among the riders. There was no question it happened. Not only were there witnesses on the scene, but the incident was also captured on camera and posted online.

The Madison Police Department was notified, but quickly decided that no laws were broken.

The event organizer even stated, “it has always been our position that minors are perfectly welcome to participate as they please, as long as they are accompanied by parent or legal guardian.”

Kapenga said, “Make no mistake, the feigned innocence of the participants does not determine the destructive impact to intentional or unintentional viewers. While many of the public officials in Madison, including their own City Attorney, consider it ‘good taste,’ I hope the people who live outside the ‘77 square miles surrounded by reality’ recognize how extremely distasteful and offensive this event is.”

Kapenga is working on legislation to clarify the law to protect children from similar exploitation in the future.

Save Women’s Sport Legislation Introduced

Kapenga is not alone.

On July 11th, two other Republican state lawmakers introduced a bill that would prevent XY-transgenders from competing in women’s sports. They also relied on Title IX to make their case.

“This legislation will ensure that female athletes continue to have equal access to athletic opportunities and safe competition under the spirit of Title IX. As the father of two daughters and former student athletes, I am committed to upholding a level playing field where female athletes can thrive, compete, and excel,” Sen. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) wrote.

On July 12th, two Democrat state lawmakers formed the Wisconsin Legislative Transgender Parent and Non-Binary Advocacy Caucus. It immediately issued a statement condemning the sports bill. “These pieces of legislation introduced yesterday are unacceptable and fly in the face of science and our collective humanity,” Rep. Ryan Clancy (D-Milwaukee) claimed.

Gov. Evers, of course, says he will veto the bill if it ever gets to his desk.

Eau Claire Schools Cover Up Transitioning Teacher’s Message to Students

The Eau Claire Area School District held a student assembly last month so the orchestra teacher could tell elementary and high school students all about his upcoming gender transition surgery. He read from a written statement. Parents wanted a copy, but the school district refused to provide it. That a violation of Wisconsin’s open records law. Now those parents are suing the school district for it. The story made Fox News on Wednesday, July 25th.

This is the second transgender-related lawsuit the district has faced this year.

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