Keith Altman Defending his Student Client: “The Title IX Complaint is a Smear Campaign”

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A contentious event that occurred at Kenmare Public School during the 2021 homecoming week has lately made headlines in Kenmare, a small town around 50 miles northwest of Minot, North Dakota. Intricate details of a case involving a male student who was accused of Title IX violation have been made public thanks to a federal lawsuit that was filed by the student defense attorney Keith Altman on February 10, 2023.

The Incident

In celebration of its mascot, the Honker (a symbol of a Canada goose), Kenmare Public School held a “Honkers Pride Day” on September 22 during homecoming week in 2021. Students were urged to exhibit their school passion by donning the school colors of gold and maroon.

A female student entered a math class wearing a rainbow gay pride flag as a cape, diverting from the original theme . A male student responded to her outfit by saying, “This is Honker Spirit Day, not gay pride day.” He also told a different student that the girl shouldn’t be allowed to wear the gay pride flag.

It’s important to note that the federal lawsuit makes the claim that Kenmare Public School forbids the wearing of flags or capes. This is supported by incidents in which students were told not to display an American flag with a blue line to symbolize support for law officers on their lockers. Flags and capes are not specifically forbidden in the school’s handbook, but it is made plain that disruptive clothing is not permitted.

The Lawsuit’s Claims

Following this encounter, a Title IX complaint was filed against the male student, alleging that he had sexually harassed the female student. The youngster has suffered substantial academic and emotional repercussions as a result of this accusation. His chances of receiving a scholarship in the future could be hampered if the infraction stays on his record.

Keith Altman, the student defense attorney who is defending the family of the male student, maintains that the boy’s remarks were not sexual in character and did not meet the standards for being severe, pervasive, or objectively offensive. According to Altman in an interview with The Dickinson Son Press, the Title IX lawsuit is a “smear campaign.” He underlined that the student was pointing out a policy infraction rather than being anti-gay. “He doesn’t know anything about her [the female student’s] sexual orientation,” Altman continued.

The lawsuit also claims that the school violated the male student’s rights under the First and 14th Amendments by discriminating against him based on his gender. Alex Hennix, the superintendent of Kenmare, refuses to comment on the complaint at this time.

Key Takeaways

This case highlights the difficulties in enforcing school rules, freedom of speech, and Title IX laws. While the female student exercises her freedom to express herself by donning the flag, the male student also made use of his right to share his viewpoint.

In order to avoid such scenarios in the future, the case highlights the necessity for clear policies within educational institutions and a fair understanding of students’ rights.


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