Last September the NCAA called the play. They would pull seven championship events out of North Carolina unless HB2, which has become known as the controversial “bathroom bill,” was repealed.
And yes, technically they did repeal HB2 when law makers announced their “compromise” Thursday. But the new deal, House Bill 142, has still been called discriminatory by many human rights organizations, putting the focus back on the NCAA to stay true to their original terms. If the NCAA wants to prove that this was not just for show and about actually protecting LGBTQ rights, they should accept nothing short of full repeal.
The NCAA, along with the NBA and other leagues, have a real opportunity here to enact change. They can use their power and their platforms to send a message that sports, like society, should be about inclusivity, and that their leagues provide an environment where all people are welcome regardless of race, religion, sexuality, gender or any other identifier that still faces discrimination.
They can also send a blaring message to future host sites across the U.S that the same rules apply – if equal rights are not granted for LGBTQ and any other commonly disenfranchised group, they will lose the revenue that comes with hosting large, economy-boosting sporting events.
HB2, a law that limited LGBTQ protections, would have cost the state more than $3.76 billion over the next 12 years according to some estimates, and the state saw that first-hand after the estimated $100 million lost when the NBA moved the All-Star game out of Charlotte in February.
And this shouldn’t stop with the NCAA. In fact, it would set a precedent for other organizations considering North Carolina that would be afraid of falling short of the NCAA in the ethics column, no easy feat.
That being said, this issue should not just be about how much money it costs the state of North Carolina. It is a much larger conversation about allowing trans people and all members of the LGBTQ community the same basic human rights allotted to all people. But if the threat of the state losing money is what it takes to block this type of legislation, so be it. And the NCAA has an opportunity to put even more pressure on North Carolina by not giving in to a compromise that has been called “anti-LGBT” and “an insult to civil rights” by the NAACP and “HB2.0” by Equality NC.
Those groups along with the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the Freedom Center for Social Justice, issued a joint statement against the new bill because, according to the ACLU, HB 142 would “replace HB2 with prohibitions on local government entities from extending legal protections to LGBT people until 2020 and bans on protections for transgender individuals in restrooms and other single-sex spaces forever.”
“We call on the NCAA to oppose this shameful HB2.0 bill in North Carolina, and not to reward lawmakers who have passed this so-called ‘deal’ which is an affront to the values we all hold,” the statement read. “This bill is anti-worker, anti-access to the courts, and anti-LGBTQ. It violates all basic principles of diversity, inclusion and basic civil rights. Fundamentally, any moratorium on civil rights is not a compromise, it is a contradiction with the principle of equal protection under the law and our moral values.”
This is a test to see whose voices matter more to the NCAA, the people who would be affected by this bill or the law makers just trying to save face. By threatening to remove their events from North Carolina the NCAA made a statement regarding their support for the LGBTQ community. By caving now, they’d reveal themselves as a weak organization willing to throw under the bus the very people they claimed they were defending.