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Appeals court rules to reinstate Title IX suit against University of Arizona

A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against the University of Arizona, the Arizona Board of Regents and several athletic heads at the university.

The suit was originally filed in 2019 by former University of Arizona athlete Michael Grabowski, who was attending the university on an athletic scholarship after being recruited to the university's track team. His suit alleged he was subjected to daily "sexual and homophobic bullying" by his teammates, who perceived him as gay.

His suit also said coaches and athletic leaders did not intervene to stop the bullying.

The case was dismissed by a federal judge in Arizona, but Grabowski’s legal team appealed. They argued he should be protected under Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation. 

This week, a three-judge panel on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Title IX protections also cover harassment on the basis of someone’s perceived sexual orientation. The ruling reinstates parts of Grabowski’s original suit.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.Prior to joining KJZZ, she covered border and immigration at Arizona Public Media, where she was awarded a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her coverage of Indigenous-led protests against border wall construction.Reznick started her career working in bilingual newsrooms and as a freelance journalist in Amman, Jordan. Her reporting on migration, refugees and human rights has appeared on PRX’s The World, Al Jazeera and Nova PBS, among others. As a recipient of the International Labour Organization's FAIRWAY Reporting Fellowship, she spent six months reporting on labor migration issues across Arab States.Originally from Flagstaff, she likes climbing, being outdoors and Pluto.