This Week: Trial Proceeds in Landmark Title IX Case of College Basketball Players Who Faced Anti-Gay DiscriminationBy Adam Polaski • July 25, 2017 • 11:34 am
A weeks-long jury trial is currently underway in Los Angeles in Videckis and White v. Pepperdine University, in which plaintiffs argue that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Key witnesses will give testimony and undergo cross-examination today through Thursday, and the trial will continue until at least next week.
The plaintiffs, Layana White and Haley Videckis, are in a relationship and are suing Pepperdine University on claims that they faced discrimination and harassment from their basketball coach and the university based on their sexual orientation. The plaintiffs allege that their coach declared before the entire team that lesbianism would not be tolerated and that they experienced repeated and deliberate mistreatment because of their relationship. Ultimately, the discrimination caused both students to leave the basketball team and the university entirely.
In December 2015 the case made history when Judge Dean Pregerson issued a first-of-its-kind order allowing the lawsuit to proceed with the Title IX claims of sexual orientation discrimination. “Sexual orientation discrimination is not a category distinct from sex or gender discrimination,” the judge wrote.
That ruling – and the arguments in court this month – are part of the growing legal consensus that federal laws protecting Americans from discrimination based on sex also extend to protection based on LGBTQ identity. In recent years this legal consensus has grown, with judges, courts, and federal agencies increasingly coming to the conclusion that federal law prohibits discrimination against LGBT people.
Momentum for LGBT non-discrimination is building and picking up steam. As Freedom for All Americans continues to pursue opportunities to advance legislation at the local, state, and federal level, we also applaud our indispensable legal partners for their work in the courts. This movement in the courts builds undeniable momentum toward federal resolution and provides critical education opportunities to help more Americans understand the need for non-discrimination. Together, with the strategies of securing court wins and encouraging policymakers to take action on inclusive laws, we can protect more people as quickly as possible and ensure that no one faces discrimination because of who they are or who they love, in any aspect of their daily lives.
The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Jayesh Patel of Zuber Lawler & Del Duca LLP.