On Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear several cases deciding whether federal protections apply to LGBT people—specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”
For each of these cases, the issue revolves around the meaning of one word in that list: sex. As writer Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza explained in Pacific Standard:
The Supreme Court established the current frame for reviewing sex discrimination claims nearly 30 years ago. In 1989, in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, the Supreme Court ruled that sex stereotyping—i.e., imposing expectations about how persons should act based on sex—constitutes gender and sex discrimination under Title VII, the workplace analog to Title IX that prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sex. A later Supreme Court decision clarified that Title VII covers all discrimination motivated by sex, including acts perpetrated against someone of the same sex….