Judge rejects sorority sisters' lawsuit to stop man from joining, says 'woman' isn't defined in KKG bylaws

Welcome to Laramie - Home of the University of Wyoming along Route 287 in Laramie, Wyoming, December 5, 2020.
Welcome to Laramie - Home of the University of Wyoming along Route 287 in Laramie, Wyoming, December 5, 2020. | iStock/pabradyphoto

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the induction of a male student into a sorority at the University of Wyoming, writing that the organization’s bylaws don’t define what a woman is and the court would not offer that definition. 

Six members of the University of Wyoming chapter of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority filed a lawsuit in April, claiming that the chapter is exclusively for women and that the induction of a trans-identified male student has made several girls uncomfortable. 

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that sorority officials pressured the chapter to violate sorority rules to induct the male student, Artemis Langford, in September 2022. The suit requested that Langford’s membership be declared void and an award for unspecified damages.

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Last Friday, Wyoming U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson issued an opinion dismissing the female students’ suit on the basis that the federal court cannot interfere with Kappa Kappa Gamma’s freedom of association. Johnson, appointed to the bench by former President Ronald Reagan, also contended that the sorority’s bylaws do not define the term “woman.” 

“With its inquiry beginning and ending there, the court will not define a ‘woman’ today,” the judge wrote. 

“The delegate of a private, voluntary organization interpreted ‘woman,’ otherwise undefined in the nonprofit’s bylaws, expansively; this Judge may not invade Kappa Kappa Gamma’s freedom of expressive association and inject the circumscribed definition Plaintiffs urge,” he continued.

Kappa Kappa Gamma did not immediately respond to The Christian Post’s request for comment by press time. 

According to Kappa Kappa Gamma’s bylaws, the sorority “is a private, nonprofit organization for women founded in 1870.” 

“The single-gender nature of our organization is essential to the mission and purpose of Kappa Kappa Gamma and its chapters and alumnae associations,” the bylaws continue. “The right to limit membership in the Fraternity to women is protected by the U.S. Constitution.”

In a statement to CBS News, Cassie Craven, an attorney for the sorority girls, disagreed with the judge’s ruling, asserting that the definition of a woman is not a matter of debate. 

“Women have a biological reality that deserves to be protected and recognized and we will continue to fight for that right just as women suffragists for decades have been told that their bodies, opinions, and safety doesn’t matter,” Craven wrote. 

Langford’s attorney, Rachel Berkness, expressed satisfaction with the ruling and dismissed allegations that the male student has made some sorority sisters uncomfortable, saying such claims are “cruel rumors.” The attorney argued that such claims have been “used to vilify and dehumanize members of the LGBTQIA+ community for generations.” 

In its suit, the sorority sisters described an incident involving a female member who said she noticed Langford watching her as she walked down the hall, wearing only a towel as she went to shower. 

“Other times, he has had a pillow in his lap,” the lawsuit states. “Langford repeatedly questioned the women about what vaginas look like, breast cup size, whether some women were considering breast reductions, and birth control.” 

The lawsuit comes amid concerns about the impact of allowing men to enter female-only spaces and the safety of women and girls. 

Paula Scanlan, a former teammate of trans-identified male swimmer Lia (Will) Thomas, accused the University of Pennsylvania of pressuring female swimmers to remain silent regarding their feelings about having a man on the swim team. In an interview earlier this summer with The Daily Wire's cultural commentator and radio host Matt Walsh, Scanlan lamented that female athletes were forced to share a locker room and undress around a man. 

Thomas, whose real name is Will, competed for three seasons on the Penn men’s swim team before competing on the women’s team during the 2021-'22 season. After Thomas became part of the women’s team, Scanlan said she noticed many girls started changing inside the bathroom stalls, something she had never seen before there was a man on the team and in their locker room. 

“The biggest thing was just when you’re changing, and there’s all of these people talking in the background, and you hear all of these women’s voices, and all of [a] sudden, you hear a man’s voice,” Scanlan recalled. “I’d always kind of jump a little.” 

The female athlete competed on Penn’s swim team for three seasons. According to the swimmer, the university wouldn’t allow any of the girls to complain about having a man on their team and in their changing room. 

“They said, ‘Don’t talk to the media; you will regret it. … Lia’s swimming is non-negotiable,’” Scanlan said. “And then they provided us with counseling services to help us be OK with Lia (Will) swimming.”

“It’s frightening, and your future job is on the line and everything else you want to accomplish, so of course, it worked, and then after that point, no one would talk about it anymore,” Scanlan added.

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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