North Carolina's Reckless Anti-LGBT Law Casts Dark Cloud Over Tonight's NCAA Championship Game

by Stephen Peters

Governor McCrory’s outrageous new discriminatory law has put North Carolina at risk of being denied bids to host future NCAA and NBA events

WASHINGTON – As the University of North Carolina (UNC) men’s basketball team heads to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship game tonight, its hard work and success are being overshadowed by the reckless actions of North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and state lawmakers.

With his signature on the deeply discriminatory law that was rammed through the legislature on March 23rd, Gov. McCrory has placed North Carolina not only at risk of losing an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, but also at risk of being denied the ability to host future NCAA and NBA events in the state. The outrageous new law eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, and forces transgender students in public schools and universities, as well as many transgender people in publicly-owned buildings, to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.

“On what should be a tremendously exciting night for North Carolina and its legions of fervent college basketball fans, the discriminatory actions of the state’s legislature and governor are casting a deep shadow over the Tar Heel state,” said Jason Collins, the first active NBA player to come out as gay. “I join other champions of equality in calling on Gov. Pat McCrory and the state’s elected leaders to repeal its grossly anti-LGBT law -- not only, and most importantly, to protect its own citizens, but also to assure the NCAA that North Carolina is welcoming to all and deserves to retain its historic role as a leading host of league events.”

Over the past week, Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers have been coming under increasingly intense pressure to repeal the discriminatory law in the upcoming legislative session later this month. More than 120 major CEOs and business leaders from across the country are calling on state leaders to repeal the radical new law, and the outcry continues to grow. Mayors and governors across the country are banning travel to the state, and the New York Times editorial board calls North Carolina a “pioneer in bigotry.”  Google Ventures is just one of many businesses that have stopped investments in the state until the anti-LGBT law is repealed.

Tonight’s championship game is being played in a city that the NCAA has said is also at risk of losing future NCAA events because of November’s shameful referendum that repealed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) – a critical measure that provided non-discrimination protections for LGBT and other minority Houstonians and visitors. The campaign to repeal HERO at the ballot was fueled by lies, scare tactics, and fear-mongering about transgender people – the same tactics used by anti-equality activists in North Carolina to pass House Bill 2. While it was horrible that HERO’s critical non-discrimination protections were never allowed to go into effect, HB 2 is worse because it targets LGBT, and particularly transgender people, and writes discrimination against them into law.

North Carolina’s HB 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal funding under Title IX at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in state buildings, including in public universities.  Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session on March 23rd, and Gov. McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were rejected across the country this year -- including a high-profile veto by the Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to massive liability and putting an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as funding received by schools from other federal agencies, at risk. This section of HB 2 offers costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it forces schools to choose between complying with federal law -- plus doing the right thing for their students -- or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights. Read more about how this bill puts federal funding at risk here.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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