College athletes are asking the NCAA to avoid states that are banning transgender athletes from participating in sports alongside the gender with which they identify.
According to The Associated Press, more than 500 student-athletes signed a letter asking the NCAA Board of Governors to refuse to schedule championships in states that have passed bills of the sort.
“All student-athletes should be safe and protected when competing in NCAA championships,” reads a statement from Aliya Schenck and Alana Bojar, track athletes at Washington University in St. Louis who started the letter and work with nonprofit group Athlete Ally. “Your silence on this issue is only allowing more states to pass these bills. We urge you to act now and make a strong statement against these bills, saying that the NCAA Will not host championships in states that openly discriminate against LGBTQI+ athletes.”
Thus far, Idaho is the only state to fully pass a law limiting transgender athletes. That law hasn’t been put into effect, as a federal judge placed it on hold while the American Civil Liberties Union challenges it. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem said Monday she was excited to sign the bill that passed through her state’s legislature, while the AP reports that Mississippi governor Tate Reeves is scheduled to do the same Thursday. North Dakota has also passed a bill, while more than 20 states have introduced similar measures. Supporters of the bills say that they are intended to protect female athletes.
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“We call upon you to ensure that the NCAA lives up to the guidelines and standards that they claim to uphold by making a firm statement that you will uphold the NCAA Anti-Discrimination Policy and only operate championships and events in states that promote an inclusive atmosphere,” reads the student-athletes’ letter.
The NCAA’s statement to The Associated Press reads, “The NCAA believes in fair and respectful student-athlete participation of all levels of sport. The Association’s transgender student-athlete participation policy and other diversity policies are designed to facilitate and support inclusion. The NCAA believes diversity and inclusion improve the learning environment and it encourages its member colleges and universities to support the well-being of all student-athletes.”
The NCAA, which has had policies since 2011 allowing for transgender participation, moved championships out of North Carolina in 2016 due to House Bill 2 legislating transgender use of public restrooms.
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