WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) filed its final brief in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals demanding that Kappa Kappa Gamma leadership adhere to Kappa’s governing documents, which limit membership to women.

In the brief, IWLC explains that nonprofit directors “owe fiduciary duties to the nonprofit, including a duty to act in good faith and in accord with the nonprofit’s bylaws and governing documents.” Kappa’s bylaws provide that “a new member shall be a woman.” Kappa’s directors violated their duties when they changed the membership criteria to add men, without amending the bylaws. 

Because of Kappa leadership’s bad faith action, the women in Kappa’s Wyoming chapter were forced to initiate a male in their sisterhood. The brave women who brought suit – who simply sought the safety, security, and camaraderie of a sorority house – were never given a say in whether Kappa’s membership should include men. They never had a chance to protect their single-sex space, thanks to distant leaders who claim to favor women’s rights and female empowerment.

“Kappa cannot change its membership criteria without a nationwide vote. In stealing that opportunity from not only collegiate women, but generations of alumnae invested in Kappa’s future, Kappa leadership has treated women with more disdain than Kappa’s founders could ever have dreamed,” said May Mailman, Director of Independent Women’s Law Center and lead counsel. 

“My sisters and I joined Kappa because it promised an all-women environment. That promise was broken, and Kappa leadership refuses to care or own up to their mistakes. Female-only spaces have given women life-changing benefits for decades, and we deserve those benefits that women have fought so hard for,” said Allie Coghan, a plaintiff and Ambassador for Independent Women’s Forum.

“I joined Wyoming’s Kappa chapter as an out-of-state student, excited to find home with like-minded women in an unfamiliar environment. But Kappa leadership turned their backs on women like me. By refusing to abide by Kappa’s bylaws, leadership has stripped us of Kappa’s promise to provide a safe space for sisterhood, friendships, and personal growth,” said Hannah Holtmeier, a plaintiff and Ambassador for Independent Women’s Forum.  

“Kappa promises young women a nurturing place to grow as young leaders. My sisters and I joined knowing that Kappa’s bylaws protect our women-only space. But Kappa leadership failed us by not honoring Kappa’s clear rules and forcing us to initiate a male member,” said Jaylyn Westenbroek, a plaintiff and Ambassador for Independent Women’s Forum.  

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals will rule on this case in the coming months. 

Last month, IWLC filed its opening brief in this case, representing six women in Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority who were forced to initiate a man into their chapter. Three groups filed briefs in support of IWLC, including 450+ Kappa alumnae and feminist organizations, Women’s Declaration International USA and Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF)

Follow Independent Women’s Forum’s Westenbroek v. Kappa Kappa Gamma case page to track developments here

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Independent Women’s Law Center advocates for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and the continued legal relevance of biological sex.


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