FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2017
More than 80 LGBTQ Organizations join HRC and Athlete Ally in Urging NCAA to Reaffirm Commitment to Inclusion in Tournament Selection Process
Letter calls on organization to prioritize LGBTQ-inclusive locations for its championship sites and events
New York – Today, Athlete Ally, which educates and activates athletic communities to champion LGBTQ equality, and the Human Rights (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, sent a letter signed by more than 80 national, state, and local LGBTQ organizations to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) urging the organization to reaffirm its commitment to ensuring safe and welcoming environments for championship tournaments and events.
The letter, addressed to NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors, comes as the organization is deliberating about where to hold future championship tournaments and major events. HRC, Athlete Ally and organizations including the ACLU, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Black Justice Council and Campus Pride, are calling on the NCAA to continue to prioritize localities or states with inclusive non-discrimination laws and avoid those that explicitly discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
“The NCAA has stood strongly behind their commitment to building inclusive events, and we ask that they reaffirm that promise,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “With anti-LGBTQ bills advancing in dozens of states across this country, athletes, fans and workers must know that the NCAA will continue to have their backs and avoid locations where the safety and wellbeing of any person is put at risk.”
“The NCAA has committed to ensuring that their championship events are safe, healthy and free from discrimination, and we are calling on its governing board to affirm that commitment in the current site selection process,” said Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally. “Our letter outlines principles that can and should be adopted to guarantee that LGBTQ players, coaches and fans are protected and respected wherever NCAA events are held.”
Other national organization signing on to the letter include National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLAD, GLAAD, Equality Federation, GLSEN, and PFLAG.
The letter specifically urges the NCAA to avoid awarding championship events to venues in:
Cities or states with laws that sanction discrimination against LGBTQ people in goods, services and/or public accommodations;
Cities and/or states that prevent transgender people from using the bathroom and/or locker room consistent with their gender identity;
Schools that request Title IX exemptions to discriminate against students based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity; and
States that preempt or override local nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
This past September, the NCAA took a clear stand against North Carolina’s infamous HB2 and moved all neutral-site 2016-2017 championship events out of the state due to the discriminatory law. The NCAA had previously announced that North Carolina cities no longer qualify to host NCAA events because HB2 ripped away any local LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination laws and uniquely requires anti-transgender discrimination. In February, the North Carolina Sports Association warned that the NCAA will pull all of the state’s championship game bids through 2022 if HB2 is not immediately repealed.
Other sports associations have also demonstrated their commitment to ensuring LGBTQ inclusive events. The North Carolina-based Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), moved championship games out of the state for the 2016-17 Academic year. The NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game out of North Carolina because legislators failed to repeal HB2, relocating the premier event to New Orleans — a city with explicit LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections. And both the NBA and the NFL have warned lawmakers in Texas that anti-LGBTQ legislation such as Texas’ SB 6 could affect future events in the state.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is education arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
Athlete Ally is a nonprofit organization that educates and activates athletic communities to champion LGBT equality. Athlete Ally works with MLB, MLS, the NBA, WNBA, and NBPA on player development and LGBT inclusion. It co-wrote Champions of Respect, the NCAA’s guide on LGBT policies and best practices, and continues to partner with over 150 professional athletes and college campuses to promote LGBT respect and inclusion. Athlete Ally was proud to partner with the NBA, NCAA and ACC on their historic decisions to remove contests from North Carolina due to its discriminatory anti-LGBT law HB2.
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Dear President Emmert & NCAA Governance:
On behalf of the undersigned, the Human Rights Campaign and Athlete Ally strongly encourage the NCAA to reaffirm its commitment to operating championships and events that are safe, healthy, and free from discrimination; and are held in sites where the dignity of everyone involved — from athletes and coaches, to students and workers — is assured.
The NCAA has already demonstrated its commitment to ensuring safe and inclusive events. In response to state legislatures passing laws targeting LGBTQ people, the NCAA required that bidders seeking to host tournaments or events demonstrate how they will ensure the safety of all participants and spectators, and protect them from discrimination.
Based on the new guidelines, the NCAA relocated events scheduled to be held in North Carolina due to the state’s discriminatory HB2 law. We commend these previous actions. With the next round of site selections underway, we urge the NCAA to reaffirm these previous commitments to nondiscrimination and inclusion by avoiding venues that are inherently unwelcoming and unsafe for LGBTQ people.
Such locations include:
● Venues in cities or states with laws that sanction discrimination against LGBTQ people in goods, services and/or public accommodations;
● Venues in cities and/or states that prevent transgender people from using the bathroom and/or locker room consistent with their gender identity;
● Venues at schools that request Title IX exemptions to discriminate against students based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity; and
● Venues in states that preempt or override local nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The presence of even one of these factors would irreparably undermine the NCAA’s ability to ensure the health, safety and dignity of event participants.
The discriminatory impact of these factors cannot be managed or overcome. Consequently, such venues should be avoided. This practice is also inconsistent to the NCAA’s best practices on transgender inclusion. The best way to ensure that LGBTQ people associated with an NCAA event are treated with dignity and respect — whether they are working, playing or cheering — is to prioritize venues in locations with LGBTQ protections, and avoid those that explicitly discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
We urge the NCAA to reaffirm during its selection process its proven commitments to inclusion and equality. And we encourage the NCAA to explore additional steps to continue to create welcoming championship environments.
Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions. We stand ready to support the work ahead to assure NCAA championships and events are safe and inclusive for all.
American Civil Liberties Union
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center
The CARE Center
The Central Adirondack Partnership
Citizen Action of NY, Hudson Valley
California Equality Federation
Equality New York
Equality North Carolina
Freedom Center for Social Justice
The Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada
Gender Equality New York
Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network (GSA Network)
Georgia Unites Against Discrimination
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders
The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida
The GLO Center in Springfield, Missouri
Greater Boston PFLAG
Greater Palm Springs Pride
Hudson Valley Feminists
Human Rights Campaign
LA LGBT Center
Latino Equality Alliance
The LGBT Community Center
LGBTQ Center of Durham
LGBT Center of Central PA
The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland
LGBT Center of Raleigh
The Long Island LGBTQA+ Visibility Coalition
The Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition
Long Island Pride Sports Association
Lost n Found Youth
Milwaukee LGBT Community Center
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Transgender Equality
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Center for Lesbian Rights
Odyssey Youth Movement
One Million Kids For Equality
One n Ten
Our Family Coalition
Pace University LGBTQA & Social Justice Center
Picture The Homeless
Pride Center of Western New York
Pride for Youth
Reaching Out MBA
Rockland County Pride Center
San Diego LGBT Community Center
SF LGBT Center
The Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook
Spectrum Transgender Support Group of WNY
Stonewall Community Foundation
Stonewall National Museum & Archives
Transgender Law Center