Historic Federal Ruling Allows Lesbian Basketball Players To Sue Pepperdine University for Discrimination

Federal Judge Rules “Sexual Orientation” Discrimination is Covered Under “Sex” Discrimination


+ In what appears to be a first-of-its-kind ruling, a California federal judge ruled the nation’s ban on sex discrimination in education under Title IX includes a ban on sexual orientation discrimination too. U.S. District Court Judge Dean Pregerson decided last week “that sexual orientation discrimination is not a category distinct from sex or gender discrimination.” Lesbian couple and former basketball teammates Layana White and Haley Videckis filed a lawsuit against Pepperdine University in 2013, saying their basketball coach mistreated them because of their sexual orientation.

“I was being targeted and some of the treatment, I thought, was just completely unfair,” Videckis told Los Angeles TV station KABC earlier this year. The coach said, “‘Lesbianism isn’t tolerated here. Lesbianism is real and a big problem in women’s basketball.’ And I directly remember the date of that meeting because it just stood out to me that someone could use that word in such a derogatory way,” Videckis told the station.

The women were repeatedly interrogated by their coach about their orientation and relationship and asked invasive questions like whether they slept with their beds pushed together and whether they went on vacations together and also were asked about their gynecological exam records. White says the stress from the discrimination pushed her into severe depression and even attempt suicide. They were driven off the basketball team and lost their scholarships as a result.

Pregerson’s ruling is not final but has allowed the women’s lawsuit to move forward and has explained why “sexual orientation” is covered under “sex” in Title IX which makes for a compelling argument for future cases of LGBT discrimination. Think Progress outlines the judge’s reasoning and explains it a lot better than I can:

“It is absurd to demand a victim of alleged sex discrimination based on sexual orientation prove she is a lesbian,” Pregerson writes in his ruling. “The contrary view would turn a Title IX trial into a broad inquisition into the personal sexual history of the victim. Such an approach should be precluded as not only highly inflammatory and offensive, but also irrelevant for the purposes of the Title IX discrimination analysis.”

Thus, he concluded, “it is impossible to categorically separate ‘sexual orientation discrimination’ from from discrimination on the basis of sex or from gender stereotypes; to do so would result in a false choice.”

Videckis and White were subjected to stereotypes about lesbianism and sexuality, which “stem from a person’s views about the proper roles of men and women — and the relationships between them.” If the staff’s harassment was based on “lesbians’ perceived failure to conform to the staff’s views of acceptable female behavior, actions taken on the basis of these negative biases would constitute gender stereotype discrimination.”

Law & Order


Sandra Bland

+ A grand jury in Texas decided not to indict anyone in connection to the death of Sandra Bland, who was found hanged in her jail cell after a routine traffic stop in Prairie View, Texas outside of Houston. Special prosecutor Darrel Jordan said that “the case is still open” and jurors would convene next month to discuss other aspects of the case. This grand jury was in charge of deciding if they should indict anyone “related only to Ms. Bland’s death and to the conduct of the jail staff.” Jordan says “the case is not over.” Bland, a 28-year-old black Chicago resident, had recently moved back to Texas for a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University when she was pulled over by police in a routine traffic stop that turned into a heated argument. She was arrested and later found dead in her jail cell.

+ With just a handful of days away from the end of 2015, Ty Underwood, one of the first transgender women murdered in 2015, finally got some justice. A jury in Smith County, Texas sentenced Carlton Ray Champion to life in prison for shooting and killing Underwood in Tyler, Texas, just east of Dallas. A jury convicted Champion and decided in less than 45 minutes to sentence him to life in prison and to pay a fine of $10,000. Champion and Underwood were dating and the motive for the murder was jealousy on Champion’s part.

More Reasons to Hate the GOP

+ Donal Trump has unsurprisingly ignited a fire under the “dying” white supremacist movement, which is indeed terrifying. White Supremacists everywhere are rejoicing in the fact that someone in the mainstream is voicing the exact things they believe in. Just take a look at some of the research in this piece from the Washington Post:

In a recent post on the white nationalist blog Occidental Observer, Kevin MacDonald — described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “the neo-Nazi movement’s favorite academic” — wrote that Trump’s candidacy is helping America realize that a “very large number of White people are furious” about the where the country is headed.

“We are living in very exciting times,” MacDonald wrote. “A major political candidate is saying things that have been kept out of the mainstream for decades by a corrupt elite consensus on immigration and multiculturalism that dominates both the GOP and the Democrats.”



+ Six Republican candidates running for president signed a pledge promising to support “religious freedom” legislation during their first 100 days in the White House that would allow individuals and businesses to openly discriminate against LGBT people. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee promised to push for the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) that would allow people and businesses from not serving LGBT people because it interferes with their religious beliefs, aka Christian beliefs, that “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman” or that “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” The pledge is supported by three big conservative groups: the American Principles Project, Heritage Action for America, and Family Research Council Action. The piece of legislation was introduced by Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) under the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act” in June.

International LGBT News

+ In a 21-9 vote, a Mexican state legislature has banned foreigners from using surrogacy programs in the country. They are now only open to Mexican couples. Tabasco, Mexico was the only state that allowed gay and straight couples to hire women as surrogates. Surrogacy programs in Mexico are a cheaper alternative to U.S. programs with costs ranging from $60,000 to $80,000 compared to $100,000 to $150,000 in the U.S. Some state legislators voted against the international surrogacy programs because it was becoming a new way to exploit women and a form of human trafficking. In the past, there have also been complicated legal issues with bringing the child back to the U.S. without proper birth certificates.

+ The Greek Parliament is set to approve gay civil partnerships soon which has been met with staunch opposition from the Greek Orthodox church. The bill comes two years after Greece was fined by the European court of human rights for failing to extend protective rights to gays and lesbians.

+ Despite being one of the most liberal countries in Eastern Europe, Slovenians rejected a bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry. More than half of voters opposed the bill and only 37 percent voted for the referendum. The vote came after a same-sex marriage bill was introduced in March by the country’s government but conservative groups, heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, pushed for the public to vote on it by collecting 40,000 signatures against the bill. The majority of Slovenians are Catholic and many of the opponents of the bill said it would’ve allowed gays and lesbians to adopt children which would apparently fuck up traditional family values. The Washington Post reports: “A 2010 Pew Research Center survey also showed Slovenians to be more liberal than other Eastern Europeans. About half of all Slovenians surveyed agreed that ‘gay men and lesbians should be free to live their own lives as they wish.'”

Grab Bag

+ Damn, there was another anti-gay attack in Dallas’ gayborhood, Oak Lawn, on Friday. This time bartender Daniel Luhmann was walking home from Cedar Springs Tap House at 1:30 a.m. when he heard shouts behind him but dismissed them for an argument. Soon after, two men came from behind Luhmann and struck him with a metal pole between his shoulder blades. He fell to the ground and that’s when the two men started kicking him. There have been about 14 anti-gay attacks in the Oak Lawn area since September. Police have ramped up efforts to patrol the area but residents say the police aren’t following up well enough on the reported attacks and aren’t helping to prevent them.

+ On Thursday, I wrote about Martin Shkreli, the big pharma CEO who hiked up the prices of life-saving drugs, getting arrested for securities fraud . Now, he’s resigned from Turing Pharmaceuticals. 

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Yvonne S. Marquez is a lesbian journalist and former Autostraddle senior editor living in Dallas, TX. She writes about social justice, politics, activism and other things dear to her queer Latina heart. Yvonne was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter. Read more of her work at yvonnesmarquez.com.

Yvonne has written 205 articles for us.


  1. I do not know enough about your politics to comment properly, but i do find it ironic that there are people in the republican party fighting strongly for religious protection if it involves discriminating against people according to the bible, but fighting strongly against protection foe Muslims being discriminated against for their religion regardless of their actions.

  2. So many feelings about all of this information. I think I’m just going to focus on the good things for today.

  3. Maybe a nice queer(or ally) Christian store owner can do a favor and ban people(re republican senators), who wear mixed fabric clothing from their place of business. Better yet, anyone have $50k I can borrow to open up a restaurant in DC that all republican want to go? Cause then I could say my religion says it’s against the law to be divorced, having pre-martial relations, or anything else religious text says you can’t do. We could see how they like that.

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