Levang v. Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 26, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Alumnae of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority have filed a lawsuit, Levang et al. v. Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, et al., in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against Kappa’s governing officials for alleged multiple violations of Kappa’s governing rules, fraudulent activity, failure to abide by Ohio’s free speech laws, defamation, and breaches of contracts. The suit is led by Independent Women’s Network (IWN) members Patsy Levang and Cheryl Tuck-Smith, both of whom were removed from Kappa after more than 50 years of service to the sorority, for speaking against Kappa’s hidden policy promoting the initiation of men despite the clear prohibition in Kappa’s governing documents. Ms. Levang and Ms. Tuck-Smith are joined by Susan Jennings, Margo Knorr, Karen Pope, and Ann Witt as co-plaintiffs.
Independent Women’s Law Center Director May Mailman, who is serving as co-counsel for the plaintiffs in Levang v. Kappa Kappa Gamma, said, “Kappa leadership continues to disrespect its members not only by denying them the single-sex organization they were promised, but by lashing out in hopes of silencing the truth. This violates Kappa’s Bylaws and the basic freedoms women deserve.” May also serves as lead counsel for Westenbroek v. Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Kappa Kappa Gamma alumnae issue the following statements on the filing of Levang v. Kappa Kappa Gamma:
Patsy Levang, esteemed past Kappa Kappa Gamma National Foundation President and member of Independent Women’s Network: “As a prior foundation President of Kappa Kappa Gamma, I felt obligated to stand up for the young women in Wyoming. The current leadership in Kappa has deliberately engaged in a campaign to undermine the Bylaws of Kappa which harms not only these young women, but the entire organization. I’m not surprised that they also disregarded the value of lifetime membership and my 56 years of dedication by sending me a removal letter.”
Margo Knorr, Kappa Kappa Gamma alumna, daughter of Levang, and Independent Women’s Network North Dakota Chapter Leader: “It’s hurtful that Kappa would oust Patsy and Cheryl in retaliation for supporting our sisters in Wyoming. At some point, to stand up for ourselves and for our beloved sorority, we need legal intervention. Women still have the right to say ‘no’ to any male being admitted into their sorority and uphold their organizational Bylaws in doing so.”
Cheryl Tuck-Smith, long-time member and active contributor to Kappa Kappa Gamma and member of Independent Women’s Network:
“Kappa Kappa Gamma has successfully promoted women and high standards for 150 years. It is incomprehensible that current leadership would discard that success by prioritizing men over women. I have learned through decades of experience how important it is to preserve and protect safe and secure places for women, which allow us to develop skills in leadership, community involvement, and maintaining lifetime bonds. Kappa must remain true to its existing mission, to support and promote women.”
Kappa was formed in 1870, when collegiate men outnumbered women 5-to-1, as a single-sex organization for women. Kappa has maintained this single-sex status through its governing documents, which restrict membership to women only.
As described in the complaint, starting in 2015, Kappa’s Fraternity Council (its governing body) unilaterally and deceptively took steps to broaden membership to men who identified as women. At no point did the Fraternity Council take the required steps to inform Kappa members of a change to the membership requirements, nor did they ever invite discussion or debate on the issue.
Moreover, the Fraternity Council continually demonstrated bias against women, in favor of men who identify as women. For example, the Fraternity Council admitted a male through its alumnae admission process and fast-tracked him to leadership despite his lacking the years of service to the sorority consistently required of female members.
The Fraternity Council also encouraged the admission of a male collegiate member whose grades did not meet Kappa’s baseline requirements by bypassing the anonymous voting system required for female candidates.
All the while, Kappa leadership sought donations from alumnae based on representations that Kappa had not altered its mission and continued to promote sisterhood and a woman-only environment.
Kappa leadership then retaliated against Ms. Levang and Ms. Tuck-Smith who exposed these improper actions by removing them from membership and falsely accusing them of injuring Kappa and violating “human dignity.”
This lawsuit follows on the heels of Westenbroek v. Kappa Kappa Gamma, an Independent Women’s Law Center suit, which is before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Yesterday, IWLC filed its final brief in Westenbroek v. Kappa Kappa Gamma, demanding that Kappa Kappa Gamma leadership adhere to Kappa’s governing documents, which limit membership to women. IWLC is representing six women in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority who were forced to initiate a man into their chapter. Three groups filed briefs in support of IWLC, including 450+ Kappa alumnae and feminist organizations Women’s Declaration International USA and Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF).
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Independent Women’s Law Center advocates for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and the continued legal relevance of biological sex.
Independent Women’s Network, a project of Independent Women’s Voice, in partnership with Independent Women’s Forum, is a positive, supportive community of engaged, informed, and activated women working together to inspire, interact, influence, and have impact.
SOURCE Independent Women’s Network
Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/kappa-kappa-gamma-alumnae-file-lawsuit-against-sorority-leadership-for-allegedly-harming-women-to-favor-men-302045480.html
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