NCAA restores games to North Carolina despite new anti-LGBT law

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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The National Collegiate Athletic Association has decided to restore games to North Carolina in the aftermath of the state reaching a deal to replace anti-LGBT House Bill 2 with another measure that civil rights groups say is also discriminatory.

The league announced its decision Tuesday, saying the conclusion was reached after the board of directors evaluated the replacement signed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper after negotiations with Republican leaders.

“In the end, a majority on the NCAA Board of Governors reluctantly voted to allow consideration of championship bids in North Carolina by our committees that are presently meeting,” the statement says. “The NCAA championships previously awarded to North Carolina for 2017-18 will remain in the state.”

The board, however, indicates any site awarded a championship event in North Carolina or elsewhere may be “required to submit additional documentation demonstrating how student-athletes and fans will be protected from discrimination,” the statement says.

The league has initially cancelled seven championship games in North Carolina as a result of House Bill 2, which barred cities from enacting pro-LGBT non-discrimination ordinances and transgender people from using the public restroom in schools and government buildings consistent with their gender identity. The league gave the state a deadline of last week to repeal the measure or else lose those games through 2022.

The new law, House Bill 142, prohibits municipalities, state agencies and the University of North Carolina from the “regulation of access” to bathrooms, locker rooms and showers without the legislature’s permission. It also bans municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures that would apply to private employment or public accommodations until 2020.

The NCAA decision to restore games to North Carolina comes to the dismay of LGBT rights supporters. A continued boycott from the NCAA over the HB2 deal was likely the lynchpin for whether or not an economic boycott of the state would continue to create pressure for full repeal of the law.

Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina, expressed disappointment on Twitter with the NCAA decision, saying the league has abandoned LGBT people by returning games to the state.

Also expressing disappointment with the decision on Twitter was Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, who said NCAA has placed at risk for discrimination LGBT fans and athletes in North Carolina.

More to come…

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