The NCAA is officially returning to North Carolina, seven months after yanking multiple championship events from the state over its passage of the anti-transgender law known as HB2. The NCAA on Tuesday announced that it had awarded 10 Division I championship events ― including men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament basketball games ― to the state. The decision comes nearly three weeks after Republican and Democratic lawmakers reached a compromise to repeal HB2, which barred transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity. LGBTQ groups, which blasted the legislative compromise as a “fake repeal of HB2,” aren’t pleased, calling the return to North Carolina a broken promise from an organization that had ostensibly taken a stand against transphobia and discrimination just months ago. “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,” JoDee Winterhof, a senior vice president at the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.
It’s been interesting to watch groups who not so very long ago pledged to stand up against legalized homophobia and discrimination walk back that pledge. North Carolina’s HB2, the “bathroom bill” was a solution in search of a problem which has never existed. Ostensibly intended to protect women and children from sexual predators in public restrooms, it was, in fact, a thinly-veiled attempt to define trangenders as second-class citizens without human rights.
The NCAA ignored the requests of groups like the Human Rights Campaign, which had requested that the boycott against North Carolina be maintained. HRC saw “HB2.0” for what it truly is- a slightly less discriminatory law which retains some of the worst aspects of the original law. For instance, “HB2.0” prevents cities from passing non-discrimination ordinances to protect LGBTQ rights until at least 2020. Did the NCAA ever truly care about equal rights…or was it all just for show. Given how quickly it was willing to award events to the Tar Heel State, it’s a legitimate question. Was it ever about standing up for equality…or just a meaningless show which would never stand up to the desire to make money? As if there’s any doubt about that.