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NCAA to return to N.C.: HRC, Equality NC, ACLU, NCLR respond
2017-04-04

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The NCAA announced on April 4 that it will return to North Carolina for championship events after the state, on March 30, reached a compromised repeal of HB2—the controversial statute that came to be known as "the bathroom bill."

LGBTQ groups were initially quick to criticize the compromise, which they said still allows for discrimination. Among other things, said compromise prohibits municipalities from passing any ordinance regulating private employment or public accommodations until 2020.

Some of those same organizations have come out against the NCAA's decision as well. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality NC released statements, with HRC President Chad Griffin saying, "The NCAA's decision to backtrack on [its] vow to protect LGBTQ players, employees and fans is deeply disappointing and puts people at risk. After drawing a line in the sand and calling for repeal of HB2, the NCAA simply let North Carolina lawmakers off the hook."

"It is disappointing to see the NCAA backpedal after it stood strong against the deeply discriminatory HB2," said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. "HB142 continues the same discriminatory scheme put forward by HB2 and does little to protect the NCAA's players, employees, and fans. The NCAA's decision has put a seal of approval on state-sanctioned discrimination."

NCAA men's basketball first- and second-round tournament games will be held in Charlotte, as previously scheduled, in March 2018.

From a HRC and Equality NC press release:

WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) and Equality NC released the following statements in light of the NCAA decision to consider North Carolina for championship games, despite the discrimination against LGBTQ people that remains enshrined in state law.

"The NCAA's decision to backtrack on their vow to protect LGBTQ players, employees and fans is deeply disappointing and puts people at risk," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "After drawing a line in the sand and calling for repeal of HB2, the NCAA simply let North Carolina lawmakers off the hook."

"It is disappointing to see the NCAA backpedal after it stood strong against the deeply discriminatory HB2," said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. "HB142 continues the same discriminatory scheme put forward by HB2 and does little to protect the NCAA's players, employees, and fans. The NCAA's decision has put a seal of approval on state-sanctioned discrimination."

Last Thursday, the North Carolina General Assembly and Governor Roy Cooper passed an egregious bill — HB142 — that keeps some of the most discriminatory provisions of HB2 alive. Under this new "HB2.0," which replaces one discriminatory, anti-transgender bathroom bill with another, the North Carolina General Assembly reserves total control over bathroom access throughout the state to itself; that means no city, state agency, public university or school board can ever adopt a policy that ensures transgender people have access to restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Further, no city can even consider passing any protections for LGBTQ people until 2020. At the end of this discriminatory "moratorium," cities will still be prevented from ensuring transgender people are able to use facilities consistent with their gender identity. This action targeting LGBTQ individuals — particularly transgender people — is the very definition of discrimination and continues a shameful chapter for North Carolina.

Civil rights groups including HRC, the NAACP, Equality NC, and the National Center for Transgender Equality have been working to correct the record on the discriminatory measure, and the tide has turned in calling out this sham "deal" exactly for what it is. Top headlines include: The New York Times editorial board, "North Carolina's Bait-and-Switch on Transgender Restroom Law;" Steven Petrow for The Washington Post, "You can't compromise on civil rights. But North Carolina just did;" The Charlotte Observer editorial board, "HB2 repeal: Cooper turns back on LGBT community;" Slate, "The HB2 "Repeal" Bill Is an Unmitigated Disaster for LGBTQ Rights and North Carolina;" Mother Jones, "Don't Be Fooled. The North Carolina "Compromise" Doesn't Actually Protect Trans Rights;" ESPN, "NCAA, NBA and ACC say they're pro-LGBT — now's their chance to prove it;" The Nation, "The So-Called 'Repeal' of North Carolina's Bathroom Bill Is a Terrible Deal for Civil Rights." Further articles and statements from other major publications, as well as the business and entertainment community, can be found here.

ACLU Statement on NCAA Decision to Reconsider North Carolina Sites:

RALEIGH, N.C. — The NCAA Board of Governors announced today that it will again consider bids to host championship events in North Carolina despite the fact that North Carolina has replaced HB2 with a new law that continues to bar protections for LGBT people and ensures that transgender people do not have clear access to restrooms, which limits their ability to go to school, work, and attend sporting events and other public activities.

"North Carolina's new law does nothing to guarantee that LGBT people will be protected from discrimination, and as the NCAA's own statement acknowledges, the rights of trans student-athletes, coaches, and fans in particular remain in legal limbo," said James Esseks, director of the ACLU's LGBT and HIV Project. "This is not an environment that protects people from discrimination."

HB 142, signed by Gov. Roy Cooper last week, prevents public schools and local governments from adopting good policies guaranteeing that transgender people can access facilities matching their gender. HB 142 also says that local governments cannot pass ordinances protecting LGBT people — or anyone else — from discrimination in employment or public places until 2020.

Anti-LGBT legislators have already signaled their intent to build off the passage of HB 142 to pass more explicit laws targeting transgender people for using restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

"This new law is not a repeal of HB2. It doubles down on the dangerous lie that transgender people are a threat to public safety, and it doesn't leave North Carolina the way it was before HB2," said Sarah Gillooly, policy director for the ACLU of North Carolina. "The NCAA must stand by its word and demand documentation of basic nondiscrimination policies before committing to any North Carolina sites."

This press release can be found here: www.aclu.org/news/aclu-statement-ncaa-decision-reconsider-north-carolina-sites .

Statement from National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq. on the NCAA Board of Governors' Response to North Carolina's HB2 Revision:

(April 4, 2017 San Francisco)—Today, the NCAA Board of Governors issued its position on recent revisions to North Carolina's HB2, the controversial law that repealed local anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, rolled back civil rights protections for other groups, and imposed draconian restrictions on transgender people's ability to use common restrooms in public spaces. In a press statement, the NCAA Board of Governors acknowledged that it had been "hopeful that the state would fully repeal HB2." However, the NCAA backed down on its prior commitment and announced that it will again consider bringing NCAA championship games back to North Carolina. According to a press statement, a majority of its board of governors "reluctantly voted to allow consideration" of cities in the state.

National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq. issued the following statement in response:

"Every day, LGBTQ athletes show courage on the field, on the courts, and in competitive spaces across the country without giving up or calling it quits. But today, the NCAA threw in the towel and backed down on its promise to take a stand for LGBTQ athletes and North Carolinians.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is deeply disappointed that the NCAA Board of Governors has chosen to stand down in the face of discrimination. But unlike the NCAA, NCLR has not thrown in the towel; we will continue our work and will hold the NCAA to its promise to ensure that any contracts in North Carolina include equal treatment of transgender athletes with regard to restrooms and in all aspects."

A link to the NCAA Board of Governor's position is available here: www.ncaa.org/about/resources/media-center/news/ncaa-board-governors-position-hb2-repeal .


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