Letter Urges NCAA to Remove Events from Idaho | National Center for Transgender Equality

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David Farmer
June 10, 2020

Letter Urges NCAA to Remove Events from Idaho

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Dear NCAA Bid Selection Committees,

We are writing to request you relocate all NCAA events, including the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship games,[1] from Idaho due to the state’s recent passage of dangerous anti-transgender legislation that prohibits certain groups of student athletes from participating in school sports.  

Given Idaho’s adoption of a discriminatory law that directly impacts college athletics, violates NCAA values, and undermines the dignity and well-being of NCAA athletes, Idaho schools no longer qualify to host NCAA events.  

On March 30, 2020, Idaho enacted House Bill 500 (HB500), a law that bans transgender girls from competing on college teams, including at Idaho’s NCAA member schools. This law also forces women and girls to be subject to invasive medical procedures simply because they are, or are suspected to be, transgender.[2] Idaho is the only state in the country with such an extreme, harmful, and discriminatory blanket ban on the participation of transgender women and girls in sports.[3] This law is in direct conflict with NCAA Championship policies.[4] In fact, Idaho’s law is so extreme that it prompted the NCAA to speak out against its passage.[5]     

Idaho’s law blatantly targets an already-marginalized community in athletics and decreases their participation in sports. Transgender students already participate at significantly lower rates and feel unsafe in athletic spaces.[6]Further, while the harm of this law explicitly falls on transgender girls, the impact extends even further. Idaho’s new law is the first in the country to categorically ban transgender girls from sports statewide, but past research has found that when states adopt policies that create new barriers for transgender athletes to participate in sports, the number of participants in sports among all LGBTQ youth drops.[7] This harms the NCAA’s goals of protecting athlete wellbeing and promoting diversity and inclusion in athletics. 

As a law that expressly violates the NCAA’s values, HB500 disqualifies Idaho schools from hosting the seminal NCAA event. According to the NCAA’s anti-discrimination policy, the NCAA “must and shall operate [their] championships and events in alignment with [their] values as [they] strive to promote an inclusive atmosphere in which student-athletes participate…”.[8] This includes NCAA Championship sessions, series, and final events. When North Carolina passed HB2 in 2016, the most extreme anti-LGBTQ law in the country at the time, the NCAA recognized that a law targeting transgender people’s access to restrooms went against their values, and subsequently relocated championship games from North Carolina.  Like HB2, HB500 strikes directly at the core of the NCAA’s values, going even further in excluding students from college athletics. All NCAA sponsored events therefore should be removed from Idaho immediately. 

Further, Idaho should not be permitted to host an NCAA event while HB500 is in effect. With this sweeping discriminatory law in place, they simply cannot reflect NCAA values and treat all athletes with the dignity and respect expected of NCAA membership schools. 

We appreciate the NCAA’s commitment to inclusion and anti-discrimination. In keeping with these values, we encourage you to take immediate action to ensure the integrity of NCAA events and the wellbeing of all athletes. 

Sincerely, 

  • National Center for Transgender Equality
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Leadership Conference on Civil and  
  • National Women’s Law Center
  • American Association of University Women
  • Athlete Ally
  • Atlanta Pride Committee
  • Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative
  • Center for American Progress
  • Center for Disability Rights
  • CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
  • Clearinghouse on Women's Issues
  • Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
  • Equality California
  • Equality Federation
  • Equality North Carolina
  • Equality Texas
  • Family Equality
  • Feminist Majority Foundation
  • Fenway Health
  • FORGE, Inc.
  • Freedom for All Americans
  • GLAAD
  • GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
  • GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • Inclusion Playbook
  • interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth
  • Japanese American Citizens League
  • JustUs Health
  • Lambda Legal
  • Legal Voice
  • LGBTQ Allyship
  • Lou Weaver Consulting
  • Mazzoni Center
  • Minority Veterans of America
  • Modern Military Association of America
  • National Black Justice Coalition
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • National Coalition for LGBT Health
  • National Education Association
  • National Equality Action Team
  • National LGBTQ Task Force
  • National Partnership for Women & Families
  • Oasis Legal Services
  • OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates
  • One Colorado
  • OutNebraska
  • PFLAG National
  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  • SAGE: Advocacy and Services for LGBT Elders
  • Silver State Equality-Nevada
  • SPLC Action Fund
  • The Trevor Project
  • The Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, Inc.
  • Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico
  • True Colors United
  • Whitman-Walker Health and Whitman-Walker Institute
  • Women's Sports Foundation
 

[1]Boise State is slated to host the First and Second round of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Under HB500, Boise State is required to ban transgender women from women’s athletics. 

[2]This law might also permit athletes and schools in Idaho to sue the NCAA and member schools for simply allowing transgender girls to play on their team consistent with the NCAA policy. 

[3] HB500 would also ban many intersex women and girls from participating on women's teams due to their variations in sex characteristics.

[4]To promote fairness and inclusion, the NCAA permits transgender women to participate in sports after a specific set of requirements are met.  

[5]NCAA Statement on HB500: “HB500 is harmful to transgender student-athletes and conflicts with the NCAA’s core value of fair treatment of all individuals.The membership believes that transgender student-athletes should have nondiscriminatory and respectful participation opportunities on college sports teams, and we are working to understand how this law will impact college athletes in Idaho. It is our hope that all individuals will be treated with fairness and respect in athletics.”

[7]Ibid

[9]Boise State is slated to host the First and Second round of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Under HB500, Boise State is required to ban transgender women from women’s athletics. 

[10]This law might also permit athletes and schools in Idaho to sue the NCAA and member schools for simply allowing transgender girls to play on their team consistent with the NCAA policy. 

[11]To promote fairness and inclusion, the NCAA permits transgender women to participate in sports after a specific set of requirements are met.  

[12]NCAA Statement on HB500: “HB500 is harmful to transgender student-athletes and conflicts with the NCAA’s core value of fair treatment of all individuals.The membership believes that transgender student-athletes should have nondiscriminatory and respectful participation opportunities on college sports teams, and we are working to understand how this law will impact college athletes in Idaho. It is our hope that all individuals will be treated with fairness and respect in athletics.”

[14]Ibid

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