GLAAD RESPONDS TO NCAA STATEMENT REGARDING TRANSGENDER INCLUSION IN SPORTS

April 12, 2021

GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s statement of support for transgender student athletes, released today on the NCAA’s site.

The NCAA Board of Governors stated that it “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… inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport.” The statement reminds all of the NCAA’s policy directive, that “only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.”

GLAAD responded on Twitter, and GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis issued the following statement:

“The NCAA is following its own guidelines and demands from hundreds of college student-athletes insisting on fairness and inclusion for transgender participation. Every state debating and passing these discriminatory bills is doing untold damage to young people and to the states’ economies and reputations. The message is loud and clear: These bans are wrong. Choose inclusion. Everyone wins.”

At least thirty states are considering bills that ban transgender participation in sports, despite no evidence in the states of trans inclusion being an issue, including in the three states that have already signed bans into law: Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. Research shows states with inclusive policies have more girls participating in sports than states with bans. Dozens more bills are being considered that block trans youth access to gender-affirming healthcare.

Last month, more than 500 NCAA student-athletes sent a letter to the NCAA Board of Governors calling for the institution to uphold its nondiscrimination policy and publicly refuse to host championships in states with bans against trans athletes. Sports Illustrated broke the story of the student-athletes’ demand to the NCAA.

Student signatories are athletes from college and university athletics from every region in the U.S., representing a variety of sports including men's and women's basketball, men's football, track and field, rowing, swimming, diving, and gymnastics. The letter cites the 2016 NCAA non-discrimination policy following the institution’s decision to move all championship games out of North Carolina in response to House Bill 2, which prohibited some transgender people from using public restrooms according to their gender identity, a move estimated to cost North Carolina nearly four billion dollars in lost revenue. 

The global athletic community including Billie Jean King, Jason Collins and Megan Rapinoe, student athletes, and advocacy organizations have also been calling on the NCAA to enforce its policy of inclusion since Idaho’s trans athlete ban House Bill 500 passed last year.

Several corporations have signed a letter of support for trans kids and against the dozens of bills being proposed around the country.

Nearly 700 feminist leaders including Gloria Steinem, Laverne Cox, the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood signed onto GLAAD's letter to support transgender women and girls, released on Transgender Day of Visibility and to mark Women's History Month.

Steinem tweeted she signed the letter because “we all must fight against the unnecessary barriers placed on trans women and girls by lawmakers and those who co-opt the feminist label in the name of division and hatred.”

According to the Public Policy Research Institute, more than 3 out of 4 Americans (76%) favor legislation that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. Americans from all political parties and faiths support non-discrimination laws, the highest level of support the survey has ever recorded.