Photographer: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

NCAA's High-Profile Gay Rights Policy Has a Lot of Wiggle Room

  • Among new championship hosts, 40% have no LGBT protections
  • North Carolina to host 26 events after changing state law

A little less than a year ago, the NCAA drew praise for a new policy requiring its championship host sites to commit to protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes and attendees.

For the first time since that announcement -- and its high-profile boycott of North Carolina -- the NCAA announced the hosts of more than 450 events from 2017 through 2022. Among the locations, more than 40 percent lack legal protections for LGBT people.

Twenty-six future events will also be held in North Carolina, which revoked the most controversial provisions of its anti-gay legislation at the end of March. The NCAA board of governors issued a statement saying that the repeal, though "far from perfect," was enough for the state to be eligible to host once again.

“The NCAA has inexcusably gone back on its promise to ensure all championship games are held in locations that are safe, respectful, and free of discrimination," said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group in Washington.

“By rewarding North Carolina with championship games, the NCAA has undermined its credibility and is sending a dangerous message to lawmakers across the country who are targeting LGBTQ people with discriminatory state legislation,” Winterhof said.

The NCAA didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In practice, the NCAA’s new policy has been inconsistent. At the same time the organization pulled its championship events from North Carolina, it held tournaments and championship in other states without full protection for LGBT people.

Advocates including HRC have been using the NCAA’s boycott of North Carolina to pressure sports powerhouses such as Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky to reject proposed legislation considered discriminatory to LGBT residents. Hundreds of such laws are under consideration this year. As it stands, only 22 states specifically protect consumers discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

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