RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Now that North Carolina has lost its NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference championship events for this year, some other states face potential challenges in the organization’s fight for discrimination-free environments.
The NCAA this week took the unprecedented step of pulling seven championship events from the state over its objection to a law that can allow discrimination against LGBT people. Two days later, the ACC did the same thing – relocating all 10 of its neutral-site championships from the state the conference has called home since its founding in 1953.
At issue in North Carolina is the law known as HB2, which excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from statewide anti-discrimination protections. It also requires transgender people to use restrooms in schools and state government buildings that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate.
When the NCAA announced its anti-discrimination policy last spring, it said it was tracking the actions of legislatures in several states but did not identify them. A questionnaire event organizers must complete during the bidding process asks them to identify any laws that might lead to discrimination.
In announcing the moves, the NCAA pointed out that North Carolina’s situation was unique in that it has the only statewide transgender bathroom law in the nation. Plus, five states and several cities don’t allow public employees and representatives of public institutions to travel there because of HB2.
Here are four states that might eventually wind up on the NCAA’s radar:
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has suggested the state will take up school bathroom access in 2017, and the state is leading an 11-state lawsuit that accuses the federal government of turning schools into “a massive social experiment.” Voters last November overturned a Houston ordinance that extended nondiscrimination protections to gay and transgender people. Opponents used a campaign featuring the slogan, “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms.” San Antonio is scheduled to host the 2018 Final Four and Dallas is hosting first- and second-round games in 2018. Dallas will host the Women’s Final Four next spring.
Though Republican Gov. Nathan Deal in March vetoed a religious freedom bill that critics say would have limited LGBT people’s rights, some conservatives have vowed to revive the measure – known as HB757 – in 2017. The NFL has said the bill, if passed, could jeopardize Atlanta’s bid for future Super Bowls. The NCAA men’s basketball South Regional semifinals and final is set for Atlanta in 2018, while the Division I men’s and women’s tennis championships are scheduled for Athens in 2017.
Officials at Memphis have said any decision about the 2017 South Regional semifinals and finals – which they’re scheduled to host – rests with the NCAA after the state passed a law that allows therapists to decline to see patients based on religious values and personal principles. That led to a lawsuit in June filed by gay rights activists, who claim it targets LGBT people. It also led the American Counseling Association to cancel its planned conference in Nashville – which also is scheduled to host opening-weekend games in the 2018 men’s basketball tournament.
The state hasn’t hosted any predetermined NCAA championship events since 2001 because the Confederate battle flag appears on the state flag. Appealing a judge’s ruling against a law that was supposed to take effect July 1 likely won’t do the Magnolia State any favors in the sports organization’s eyes. The religious objection law signed by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant remains blocked after a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional, with U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves in his ruling calling it “the state’s attempt to put LGBT people back in their place.” The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month refused to unblock the law.