Justice is served

In a landmark discrimination case, a jury in Oregon has awarded former nursing student Nicole Gilliland $1.73 million after she proved that Southwestern Oregon Community College flunked her for being an “unclassy woman.” Gililland sued the college, claiming sex discrimination under Title IX as well as breach of the school’s own anti-discrimination policy. 


Nicole’s family embarking on their educations, Aug 2021

After information was circulated about Gililland’s history as a porn star, the school negligently allowed faculty to orchestrate her academic failure. Before the revelation, Nicole had been passing the nursing program with remarkable grades. The cascading consequences of this discriminatory episode reached far beyond the campus. Beyond preventing Gililland from continuing her education, the ordeal resulted in Gililland experiencing eviction and extreme impacts to her mental health, as well as the Department of Human Services temporarily placing her children in the care of estranged relatives.

Nicole has long since been reunited with her children and is preparing to take the bar after graduating from law school at UMass Dartmouth in 2024.

Discrimination against people with sex work histories is commonplace and is one of many tools we use to prevent the professional ascension of women. But people like Nicole Gilliland inspire us to push back against the lie that sex workers cannot be mothers, nurses, teachers, lawyers, and civil rights heroes.


Says Gililland of her experience, “I really want to express my extreme gratitude for the support I’ve received from New Moon Fund, SWOP-BB, the Woodhull Foundation, Oregon Sex Work Committee, and the sex work community as a whole. This was such a long and intensive battle against some of the most hateful and vindictive people I’ve ever had the displeasure of crossing paths with. The support I’ve received from our community is how and why I was able to persevere. I look forward to focusing on healing and continuing to advocate against the perils of stigma.


This will set a precedent for sex workers to file suit against schools, and possibly employers for sex discrimination. It’s hard to overstate the impact this will have on the movement to destigmatize current and former sex workers. Upon graduating from law school, Gililland intends to serve sex workers in need of counsel. 


Recognizing the importance of this case, New Moon Fund provided financial support to ensure that Gililland could focus on the hearings in Eugene. New Moon Fund staffers also coordinated court support with local sex working communities. 


More information:

Jury Orders Oregon School to Pay $1.7 Million to Ex-Porn Actress – Rolling Stone

Political Gabfest podcast – 44:12 Cocktail Chatter

Federal Court Holds Discrimination Against Sex Workers is Sex Discrimination – Zeff Law Firm

Former Porn Star Nicole Gililland Sues Her School For Discrimination (vice.com)