by Wyatt Ronan •
Today, the Human Rights Campaign called on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to only consider ‘Final Four’ host cities in states that have not passed anti-transgender legislation.
Today, the Human Rights Campaign called on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to only consider ‘Final Four’ host cities in states that have not passed anti-transgender legislation. HRC’s appeal came in response to the NCAA’s announcement today that it will consider hosting both men’s and women’s Final Four tournaments simultaneously in the same city based on an external gender and equity review. The NCAA said it wouldn’t impact site locations until 2027, as locations for preceding years have already been selected. In 2015 the NCAA spoke out forcefully against the ratification of an anti-LGBTQ religious refusal bill in Indiana, threatening to reconsider future events and the maintenance of their corporate headquarters within the state.
During the 2021 legislative session, the NCAA publicly expressed opposition to anti-transgender laws and reaffirmed its commitment to their principle of awarding championship host sites to locations that were “safe, healthy, and free from discrimination.” Yet, after their statement, the NCAA violated its own principles by announcing softball tournaments at schools in Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee, all states that passed anti-transgender legislation this year. In all, nine states have enacted anti-transgender sports bans, including legislation in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, West Virginia and Executive Orders in South Dakota. Human Rights Campaign Interim President Joni Madison issued the following statement in response to today’s report:
“Last spring, the NCAA abandoned its commitment to hosting championships exclusively in states that commit to providing an environment ‘safe, healthy, and free from discrimination’ by announcing it would hold tournaments in states that discriminate against transgender youth. While that decision was confusing and deeply disappointing, the organization has an opportunity to recommit to that principle as it begins to consider host cities for future Final Four tournaments. The Human Rights Campaign is calling on the NCAA to respect the health and safety of transgender athletes by refusing to consider Final Four host cities in states that have anti-transgender sports bans on the books and addressing their plan to host the 2025 Women’s Final Four in Florida where an anti-transgender state law was enacted earlier this year.
It should also be noted that, while the NCAA is releasing details for an event that is six years away, student-athletes in nine states are facing immediate threats of discrimination now. The NCAA athletes of tomorrow are being prevented from playing high school sports today due in part to the NCAA’s refusal to act forcefully to stop discriminatory bills from passing during a record-breaking year for anti-transgender legislation. Families are feeling the gravity of these laws, with some trying to relocate, others unable to, and many who are left unsure of which state will be next to legalize discrimination against their children. The time for the NCAA's leadership on this issue is now. As the organization begins to contemplate a future of inclusion, HRC hopes the NCAA will be a partner in our fight to end legal discrimination against transgender youth.”
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