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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ted Rybka
AMELIA ISLAND, FLA (May 12, 2016) – The Atlantic Coast Conference strengthened its public position against HB2, North Carolina’s law that allows legal discrimination based on gender identity and expression. The official statement was released at the conclusion of its annual spring meetings in Amelia Island.
The Atlantic Coast Conference is a collegiate athletic conference comprised of 15 Division I members schools, four of which – Duke, North Carolina State, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest – are located in North Carolina. Its headquarters are in Greensboro, NC and many of its tournaments are held in the state.
A transcript of the statement follows:
“The Atlantic Coast Conference and its member institutions remain committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. Discrimination in any form has no place in higher education and college athletics, and the safe and respectful treatment of student-athletes, coaches and fans regardless of gender, will remain a priority. During the 2016 ACC Spring Meetings, the league’s faculty athletics representatives, athletic directors, senior women administrators and student-athlete representatives discussed North Carolina’s HB2 and its effects. The membership strongly supports the league continuing to engage at the highest levels regarding the effects of this law on its constituents as it evaluates current and future events and championships within the state of North Carolina. The league will also require commitments to provide safe and inclusive environments from sites for which there are current commitments for ACC Championships.”
The newer, stronger language was delivered after a weeklong series of meetings between the ACC’s governing body and student-athletes, administrators and coaches. One of the many topics discussed throughout the meetings was safety concerns for athletes, coaches and staff who participate in ACC athletic events in North Carolina. Additionally, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representatives from across the conference, not in attendance, sent a formal letter outlining the need for better protections.
Athlete Ally submitted its own letter separately, asking the ACC to adopt a stronger public stance in support of the conference’s LGBT community. “Today was a huge victory for athletes, coaches, staff and fans all over the country,” said Hudson Taylor, Executive Director for Athlete Ally. “The ACC’s evolution on this issue is commendable and demonstrates their commitment to the LGBT community.”
Incoming ACC SAAC president Ezra Baeli-Wang traveled to Amelia Island to participate in the discussions. A member of the University of North Carolina’s fencing team, Baeli-Wang said, “It was a privilege to be a part of the first group of student-athletes ever invited to attend the ACC’s annual Spring Governance Conference. Students, staff, faculty and commissioner Swofford worked together to ensure the wellbeing of ACC student-athletes. It demonstrates the conference’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.”
Ashland Johnson, Athlete Ally’s Director of Policy and Programs added, “This statement couldn’t have been produced without the initiative and organization of select ACC Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) members. It demonstrates that a collaborative effort can have a positive effect.”
About Athlete Ally
Athlete Ally is a non-profit organization that educates and empowers the athletic community to take a stand against homophobia and transphobia in sports. Athlete Ally works with MLB, the NBA, WNBA, and NBPA on player development and LGBT inclusion. It also co-wrote the NCAA’s LGBT policies and resource guides and partners with over a hundred professional athletes and college campuses to promote LGBT equality and respect.
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