RALEIGH, N.C. — The NCAA announced today that they will be returning championship events to sites in North Carolina for the first time since the state passed sweeping anti-LGBT legislation in 2016. The original law, HB 2, was replaced last month by a new law, HB 142, which continues to discriminate against transgender people.
“North Carolina’s new law does nothing to guarantee that LGBT people will be protected from discrimination” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project. “When the NCAA originally withdrew events from North Carolina, they did so because they claimed to care about ‘fairness and inclusion’ for college athletes and fans. It’s a shame to see that those concerns have already fallen by the wayside.”
HB 142 prevents state agencies, public schools, and local governments from adopting policies ensuring that transgender people can access restrooms matching their gender. Without such protections, people cannot fully participate in public life. 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.
Last week, the ACLU delivered more than 77,000 petition signatures to the NCAA urging the organization to keep events out of North Carolina.
Earlier this month, the ACLU filed public records requests with North Carolina cities and universities seeking documentation that could demonstrate how they would guarantee a nondiscriminatory environment for LGBT people if they are selected to host NCAA events. Thus far, none of the cities or universities selected today by the NCAA have responded.
Anti-LGBT legislators have already signaled their intent to build off of the passage of HB 142 to pass laws that more explicitly target transgender people for using restrooms consistent with their gender identity.
“We have yet to see any evidence showing how the NCAA can ensure basic nondiscrimination protections for these events,” said Sarah Gillooly, policy director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “And that’s because a nondiscriminatory environment can’t exist in a state where official policy singles out transgender people and perpetuates the notion that they should not participate fully in public life.”