Two former playeres on the Pepperdine University women’s basketball team will be allowed to proceed with their lawsuit that alleges the university harassed and discriminated against them because they were dating.
A federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation falls under the purview of the landmark Title IX law, giving a broader interpretation to the 1972 statute that prohibits sex discrimination in the nation’s schools and colleges.
In a 22-page ruling reported by the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson said discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not a separate category of discrimination but that such claims fall under Title IX’s view of discrimination on the basis of gender or sex.
Haley Videckis and Layana White said the coach wanted them off the team on grounds that their lesbian relationship “would cause the team to lose games,” the complaint alleged.
Seeking to dismiss parts of the women’s lawsuit, Pepperdine argued in court papers that Title IX does not cover claims based on sexual orientation and that their allegations failed to meet the law’s standard for gender stereotype discrimination.
Pregerson disagreed. He said the women could pursue their suit because the alleged maltreatment turned on the nature of each individual’s sex in the same-sex relationship, The Times reported.
“Plaintiffs allege that they were told that ‘lesbianism’ would not be tolerated on the team,” Pregerson wrote. “If plaintiffs had been males dating females, instead of females dating females, they would not have been subjected to the alleged different treatment,” he said, concluding that the pair have a “straightforward claim of sex discrimination.”
—City News Service
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