80+ LGBTQ Organizations Join HRC and Athlete Ally in Urging NCAA to Reaffirm Commitment to Inclusion

by Sarah McBride

Letter calls on organization to prioritize LGBTQ-inclusive locations for its championship sites and events.

Today, HRC Foundation and Athlete Ally, which educates and activates athletic communities to champion LGBTQ equality, 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 Coalition 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.

To read the full letter, visit: https://assets2.hrc.org/files/documents/HRC-AA-NCAASignOn.pdf