HRC and Athlete Ally Commend NCAA for Continued Commitment to LGBTQ Inclusion in Events

by Sarah McBride

WASHINGTON - In a message responding to a letter from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, Athlete Ally, and more 80 national, state, and local LGBTQ organizations, NCAA President Mark Emmert late Monday strongly reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to ensuring safe and welcoming environments for its championship tournaments and events. In their letter to Emmert and the NCAA Board of Governors, the HRC Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, Athlete Ally, which educates and activates athletic communities to champion LGBTQ equality, and organizations including the ACLU, the Equality Federation, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the National Black Justice Coalition, urged the NCAA to avoid cities and states with laws that sanctioned discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

In his response to HRC and Athlete Ally, Emmert wrote, “The Board and I remain committed to maintaining a college sports experience that is inclusive and fair for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. As the next round of site selections is underway, this commitment has not changed. The bidding process for hosting NCAA events now explicitly asks potential sites how they will provide an environment that is safe, respectful and free of discrimination at the events. We expect that all people will be welcomed and treated with respect at our NCAA championships and events.”

Said HRC President Chad Griffin: "The NCAA has made it clear they won't abide by discrimination against their athletes, fans or employees. With anti-LGBTQ bills advancing in dozens of states, lawmakers from North Carolina to Texas to South Dakota will know that discrimination has consequences. We are proud to have an ally like NCAA President Mark Emmert, who is doing what's right to help ensure LGBTQ people and their families are protected."

"President Emmert has made it clear that NCAA championships and events will not be awarded to places that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity," said Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director of Athlete Ally. "By committing to provide an environment that is free from discrimination for their LGBTQ attendees and participants, the NCAA is positively impacting every city and state seeking to host a championship or event. We commend the NCAA for continuing to ensure that discrimination has no place in sports or under the law."

Other national organization signing on to the letter include, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLAD, the Transgender Law Center, GLAAD, Equality Federation, GLSEN, and PFLAG.

Last 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 original letter from HRC, Athlete Ally, and more than 80 LGBTQ organizations visit:

And to read the NCAA response, visit:

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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