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Changing the rules

The NCAA won’t punish North Carolina for LGBTQ discrimination after all

The NCAA won’t punish North Carolina for LGBTQ discrimination after all

North Carolina can discriminate against LGBTQ Americans and still host a championship sports game, as it turns out.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association decided Tuesday that North Carolina can remain a host for upcoming championship games days after the state partially repealed its anti-transgender bathroom bill in exchange for barring local governments from passing laws to protect LGBTQ residents from discrimination until 2020.

In a stern statement issued Tuesday morning, the NCAA said the decision wasn’t an easy one and that its board of governors “reluctantly voted to allow consideration of championship bids in North Carolina.” The moratorium on protections for LGBTQ people, however, is “a signal that discriminatory behavior is permitted and accepted,” the NCAA’s statement added.

The board also asked that any site that plans to host a championship event in North Carolina should submit additional documentation that demonstrates how “students, athletes, and fans will be protected from discrimination.”

The NCAA emerged as an unlikely defender of transgender rights after initially pulling two coveted championship games from North Carolina in September, months after the state passed HB2, also known as a “bathroom bill,” which prevented transgender people from using bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. The decision dealt a huge blow to the state’s college basketball powerhouses.

The NCAA had issued an ultimatum last Tuesday: Repeal HB2 within 48 hours, or the state would no longer be eligible for hosting any championship games in the foreseeable future. And the board’s reluctance to reinstate North Carolina’s status came from the fact that they hoped for a full repeal of HB2.

The repeal last week voided HB2 and prohibited lawmakers from regulating who can and can’t use bathrooms or locker rooms. But the replacement kept a portion of the bill, which prevents local jurisdictions from passing nondiscrimination ordinances protecting LGBTQ people, such as the one in Charlotte that triggered HB2, until 2020. Critics called the partial repeal “insidious discrimination” in another form.

“The Board of Governors, however, was hopeful that the state would fully repeal HB2 in order to allow the host communities to ensure a safe, healthy, discrimination-free atmosphere for the championship sites,” the NCAA said in a statement. The terms of the HB2 repeal meets the “minimal” requirements for a state to be eligible for championship consideration. However, the NCAA added, the “board remains concerned” about the provision of the repeal that placed a moratorium on local governments.

The NCAA’s board wasn’t the only one disappointed by the partial repeal. Trans rights advocates and Democrats felt let down by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who approved the deal to roll back HB2 — which was enacted last March and cost the state an estimated $630 million in lost business and events.

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