Gay Discrimination Suit Tests Gender

The boundaries of discrimination get tested this week when a federal appeals court will reconsider the case of Brian Prowel.

Prowel filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against his employers after being called “princess” and generally made fun of for being gay. Another judge tossed the case earlier this year, saying that the discrimination wasn’t based on Prowel’s gender, but his sexual orientation, which isn’t protected under federal guidelines. And the results of the new court’s findings will have broader consequences than just getting justice for Prowel.

The thrust of the matter revolves around whether anti-gay discrimination rests more on opinions of sexuality or gender stereotyping. If Prowel’s claim goes through, then other gay men and women who have been discriminated against may be able to use the “gender” claim, rather than focusing solely on their same-sex love. That argument has been successfully made in the past, but Prowel’s case could help further dismantle the relatively protected “anti-gay” shield.