This story was updated with comments from Kappa Kappa Gamma’s national organization at 10:50 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26. —Ed.
The six sorority sisters who sued the University of Wyoming’s Kappa Kappa Gamma earlier this year for admitting a transgender member filed notice Monday stating they will appeal the dismissal of their federal civil suit.
The plaintiffs, however, will not pursue any claims against Artemis Langford, the transgender woman and UW student at the center of the suit, according to the filing.
While Monday marked the deadline for a notice of appeal, it could take weeks before the plaintiffs file the actual appeal in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
Langford became the first openly transgender sorority member in UW history last fall when she was admitted by a vote of the local chapter’s membership. In March, members Jaylyn Westernbroek, Hannah Holtmeier, Allison Coghan, Grace Choate, Madeline Ramar and Megan Kosar sued Langford, Kappa Kappa Gamma’s parent organization and its national president.
The plaintiffs, who originally sought anonymity in their suit, claimed the private organization broke its bylaws, breached housing contracts and misled members by admitting Langford. They asked the court to void her membership in addition to prohibiting “any other man” from joining the sorority, plus monetary and punitive damages from the organization.
U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson dismissed the complaint last month, ruling that the court cannot interfere with how the sorority determines its membership since it’s a private, voluntary organization.
The ruling was “without prejudice,” which left the plaintiffs the option to refile. Johnson, however, advised the plaintiffs to “devote more than 6% of their complaint to their legal claims against the defendants,” should they choose to restart litigation. Much of the 72-page complaint was devoted to accusing Langford of “inappropriate” behavior and said her attraction to women made her “more threatening.” Those allegations were “unbefitting in federal court,” according to Johnson’s ruling.
Instead, the plaintiffs are choosing to appeal. The appeals notice does not explain the grounds for the appeal. That’s expected to come later.
A representative for the sorority said the organization expects Johnson’s ruling will survive the appeals process.
“Kappa Kappa Gamma applauds the court’s ruling in Wyoming upholding a private organization’s right to choose their members,” a spokesperson for the national organization told WyoFile in a statement. “In this case, a federal judge carefully examined every aspect of the plaintiffs’ allegations and ruled to dismiss this case. We are confident the judge’s thoughtful and decisive ruling in this matter will be upheld.”
Cassie Craven and John Knepper, attorneys for the plaintiffs, did not respond immediately to WyoFile’s request for comment. Nor did Rachel Berkness, the attorney representing Langford.