A Wisconsin school district is under fire for allegedly doing nothing after an adult man exposed his penis to four freshman girls in a high school locker room.
The incident occurred at the Sun Prairie East High School on March 3.
According to a letter sent to the district by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), “four freshman girls at EHS participated in a swim unit as part of their first-hour physical-education class. After the class, the girls entered the girls’ athletic locker room to shower and change for class. Upon entering, they noticed a senior male student in the area containing lockers and benches. It is our understanding this male was 18 years old at the time of the incident. According to the girls, this student was not in the first-hour PE class they were participating in. While the girls were surprised to see him in the locker room, they had a general idea that this student identifies as transgender and has used girls’ bathrooms before. While they were uncomfortable, they proceeded to the shower area without interacting with the student.”
“The girls entered the shower area with their swimsuits on, which was their common practice as they rinsed off. As they began to shower, the male student approached them, entered the shower area, announced ‘I’m trans, by the way,’ and then undressed fully and showered completely naked right next to one of the girls,” WILL explained. “He was initially turned towards the wall but eventually turned and fully exposed his male genitalia to the four girls. Understandably, the girls were caught off guard and shocked, closed their eyes, and tried to hurry up and leave the showers as quickly as possible.”
The girls were uncomfortable and unsure what to do, but they told another student, who informed student services, about what had happened.
Associate Principal Heidi Walter reportedly asked the student for the girls’ names but did not inform the Title IX coordinator about this report of alleged sexual harassment.
“Under federal law, the incident should have been reported to the Title IX coordinator, who should have then contacted the girls, offered supportive measures, and provided them an opportunity to file a complaint” WILL said. “Supportive measures might have included accommodations to maintain their access to education and adequate privacy in the locker room at least while a Title IX investigation was pending. No one from the District contacted any of the girls’ parents at that time, and no one investigated. To be clear, that means that the District’s initial response to this incident violated Title IX.”
The school and district appeared to do nothing for over a month — despite the girls’ parents repeatedly following up with them. They eventually sent a parent the “restroom and locker room accessibility guidance,” which says that students can use the restrooms and locker rooms that they identify with as long as they are respectful of others.
The principal eventually apologized to the parents, but that was it.
“It is quite telling that, according to the guidance document, if biological girls desire more privacy, it is the girls who must leave and use a separate bathroom or locker room,” WILL said in the letter. “This is precisely backwards.”
Under Title IX, reports of sexual harassment in schools must be addressed and taken seriously.
“SPASD cannot possibly know whether the girls experienced unwelcome conduct that negatively impacted their education because it has done nothing to investigate,” the letter continued. “Instead, the District acted (or failed to act) in a manner so that only the transgender student’s interests were prioritized. This is a violation of law.”
The organization said that a crime may have also been committed, as an adult exposing themselves to minors falls under criminal statute Wis. Stat. § 948.10.
Libby Sobic, WILL Director of Education Policy, said in a statement that, “School districts need to think through what loosening boundaries for single-sex spaces could mean for girls. Parents are understandably concerned about whether school districts—like the Sun Prairie Area School District—are doing everything required to protect girls in bathrooms and locker rooms. WILL is calling on the district to act promptly to restore a sense of safety and privacy in its schools.”
WILL has now filed an open records request, seeking the school’s restroom and locker room guidance that was in effect on March 3, 2023. WILL is also asking when the locker room guidance policy was created (before or after the incident) and what additional communications existed between school faculty regarding the matter.
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