NCAA won’t host championships in states with laws targeting transgender athletes

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(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

UTAH (ABC4) – The NCAA released a statement regarding laws targeting transgender athletes on Monday.

In the statement, the NCAA Board of Governors says the NCAA will not hosts championships in states that have anti-transgender laws or bills, saying “when determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.”

The full statement from the NCAA is as follows:

“The NCAA Board of Governors firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports. This commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition.

The NCAA has a long-standing policy that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports. Our approach — which requires testosterone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports — embraces the evolving science on this issue and is anchored in participation policies of both the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport. Our clear expectation as the Association’s top governing body is that all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect. We are committed to ensuring that NCAA championships are open for all who earn the right to compete in them.

When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected. We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.”

In February, House Bill 302, which aimed to exclude transgender youth from playing girls’ sports was highly contested at the Utah State Capitol.

“Girl, boy, special needs, it doesn’t matter. When they walk on to a team in Utah that is full of girls, they are going to be included because women are loving and accepting. All is we are asking for, the only thing we want is fairness when we go to compete in our sports,” The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kera Birkeland, (R) Morgan, told state senators during a Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting.

During a hearing discussing the bill, Senator Jacob L. Anderegg of Salt Lake County said to the bill’s sponsor, “I hate your bill. I’m sorry, it just really, really sucks.” 

After the bill was proposed, Utah Governor Spencer Cox issued a strong message to state leadership surrounding the bill and the issue of transgender youth participating in girls’ sports.

“If you have not spent time with transgender youth, then I would encourage you to pause on this issue,” Gov. Cox said. “We have so many people who are in a very difficult spot right now. And we have very few if any transgender girls participating in sports.”

“These kids are, they are just trying to stay alive. You know, there is a reason none of them are playing sports,” the Governor added. “And so, I just think there is a better way, and I hope that there will be enough grace in our state to find a better solution.”

The bill was ultimately halted in the Utah State Senate.

The NCAA established a transgender inclusion policy in 2011, in which the organization said they will “seek to establish and maintain an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student-athletes and career opportunities for coaches and administrators from diverse backgrounds.”

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