WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled a merits briefing in Westenbroek v. Kappa Kappa Gamma, a monumental case maintaining that “woman” in a sorority’s bylaws means “woman.” The sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, attempted to avoid appellate review entirely, and the female plaintiffs filed their response on Monday, arguing appellate review is necessary. The Tenth Circuit decided to continue with the appeal, with the plaintiffs’ first brief due in December.
The six female plaintiffs are appealing the District of Wyoming’s dismissal of their case. The district court ruled that the plaintiff sorority members were not entitled to a women’s-only sorority, even though Kappa Kappa Gamma’s bylaws require a women’s only sorority, because the word “woman” is subject to interpretation.
The Wyoming court’s decision is not only obviously wrong, but dangerous in terms of protecting women’s rights in innumerable areas. Sororities were founded to provide a single-sex space for women, and Kappa Kappa Gamma’s board members cannot eliminate that promise simply by redefining the word.
Independent Women’s Law Center is serving as counsel on the appeal and looks forward to continued briefing in the court of appeals.
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