College athletes are challenging the NCAA to stand up for the rights of transgender athletes.
According to a report from Sports Illustrated, Almost 550 collegiate athletes from across the country competing in various sports including football and men’s and women’s basketball signed a letter that was sent to the NCAA on Wednesday, calling for the organization to withhold championship events in states that consider passing discriminatory laws against transgender athletes.
According to the ACLU, 25 states have proposed legislation that would ban transgender women and girls from competing in sports that align with their gender identity. Mississippi and South Dakota both recently passed bills restricting transgender girls’ participation and Idaho attempted to pass a similar bill into law before they were hit with a lawsuit from the ACLU and other parties that led to a judge granting a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the bill.
“We, the undersigned NCAA student-athletes, are extremely frustrated and disappointed by the lack of action taken by the NCAA to recognize the dangers of hosting events in states that create a hostile environment for student-athletes,” the letter said.
In June 2020, a similar letter was sent to the NCAA after Idaho passed its discriminatory bill. The NCAA released a statement in response to the June letter saying that the bill “conflicts with the NCAA’s core values.”
Yet, fast forward to today, the NCAA still hasn’t taken any progressive action. This isn’t the association’s first rodeo; in 2016 the NCAA played its part in costing North Carolina a projected $3.76 billion by taking their events out of the state when the North Carolina legislature passed the controversial “bathroom bill.” That legislation most notably made transgender individuals use the bathroom assigned with their birth gender but also had more harmful effects to the transgender community that could have opened up a door to greater discrimination.
Washington University in St. Louis junior Aliya Schenck and senior Alana Bojar were the main leaders in conducting this letter sent on Wednesday, in conjunction with GLAAD and Athlete Ally, national LGBTQ advocacy organizations.
The letter called out NCAA President Mark Emmert and the NCAA Board of Governors for being “silent in the face of hateful legislation.”
Currently, there are No NCAA championship events set to be played in Mississippi. However, South Dakota is scheduled to host regionals or finals in Division II men’s basketball, wrestling, and women’s volleyball, as well as Division I men’s ice hockey in the coming years.
As of now, The NCAA hasn’t released a statement in response to this specific letter.
The thought process for the organization should be simple. If the NCAA really cares about the safety and acceptance of all its athletes, swift action must take place to send a message to these states considering and/or passing such harmful legislation.
The NCAA doesn’t have to wait until other entities start making moves to set a precedent here. If they move now they can not only help prevent their athletes from being mistreated, but they may be able to help an entire community live a better life.