February 18, 2021 (New York, NY) — Athlete Ally responded today to news that Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) have reintroduced the Equality Act. The House is expected to vote on the Equality Act next week, and President Biden has vowed to sign the Equality Act into law within his first 100 days in office.
Initially introduced in 2015, the Equality Act would formalize protections for LGBTQ+ Americans against discrimination in employment, education, housing, jury service and credit, and would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and LGBTQ status in public accommodations and federal programs. The Equality Act would also expand the definition of public accommodations, and establish that the 1994 Religious Freedom Restoration Act can’t be used to allow discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.
Currently, 29 states do not explicitly protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination. This means that even LGBTQ+ children have no federal protection from facing discrimination from counselors, private schools, medical professionals or summer camps while simply being their authentic selves. Under the Equality Act, they would be protected under the law from discrimination, and able to use the bathroom or locker room corresponding to their gender identity. The Equality Act would impact the lives of athletes, coaches and fans in several additional ways. For example, LGBTQ+ athletes, reporters and coaches traveling to conservatives areas for sporting events would be protected under the law from being denied access to hotels, restaurants or arenas, and from being treated unfairly in those spaces.
Opposition to the Equality Act has directly targeted transgender women athletes, claiming that the legislation would lead to trans girls and women dominating sports. This dangerous and false rhetoric has ramped up abuse and harassment towards trans athletes, especially at a time when their anxiety and depression is heightened due to the social isolation and financial stress of COVID-19.
“We applaud the reintroduction of the Equality Act in Congress, and hope to see support across chambers for LGBTQ+ Americans to live free from discrimination,” said Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally. “From the workplace to the classroom, locker room and playing field, LGBTQ+ Americans deserve to be fully who they are and afforded the same rights and access as anyone else. This is a pivotal moment for equality and inclusion, and we hope to see the Equality Act signed into law.”