Dear NCAA Officials,
I note your decision of September 12 to withdraw all of your leagues’ championship events from North Carolina during the 2016-17 school year, based on your conviction that recent decisions by the voters and political leaders of North Carolina violate the rights of LGBT people, whose cause you feel obliged to defend.
You are certainly well within your rights to penalize citizens of the Tar Heel State for their contributions to the current political landscape (or – to be fair – for their simple misfortune at living in North Carolina in the new social and political era). Still, I can’t help musing on your decision, and wondering if you could help me with some clarifications. For instance:
1. Your objections seem to stem primarily from North Carolina’s determination to keep men’s bathrooms / locker rooms / changing areas / etc. for men only, and women’s for women only – a “segregation” you seem bent on imagining as sheer, blatant bigotry against the dozens of other gender identities now being claimed / embraced / invoked by LGBT citizens and their advocates.
Can’t help wondering, then: is the NCAA going to begin offering separate leagues for each of these gender identities? If not, how will it decide which gender / transgender groups do or don’t get a league of their own … without ceasing to be (in your organization’s preferred phrase) “fair and inclusive?”
If you’re not willing to desegregate your own interests, how exactly do you justify requiring the desegregations of others?
2. Or is it just this particular region you object to? The fact that North Carolina still honors and abides by the legal and cultural traditions that have governed civilization for hundreds of years? Because plenty of other states in plenty of other regions nationwide have passed laws nearly identical to North Carolina’s; 25 of them are in federal court, trying to stop the Title IX gender demands of the Obama administration. Will all of those states become terra non grata, too?
It seems only fair – but then at what point will your National Collegiate Athletic Association have to set aside its emphasis on “inclusiveness” to become the Intermittently Regional Collegiate Athletic Association?
3. Again, you put such a stress on “fairness.” Yet North Carolina officials have offered to make special, respectful provisions for those who don’t feel comfortable in a men’s or women’s facility, or whose presence would compromise the privacy – and, at times, the safety – of everyone else. You and your fellow protestors say that’s just not good enough.
Why isn’t it? How can complete, immediate sexual desegregation be The Only Fair Thing when it requires more than nine-tenths of North Carolinians to forfeit their most basic freedoms so that less-than-one-tenth can flex and flaunt theirs?
Why is it so much fairer to force 18 girls to compete for a single stall shower so that one boy can indulge his identity issues? Why is it so much fairer for groups like yours and the ACLU to silence thoughtful conversation on this issue rather than embrace it?
4. Your president, Mark Emmert, explained your group’s decision by saying that NCAA officials “believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events.” Does that concern for safety and respect apply exclusively to those identifying as transgender, or does it extend to women and children, and to victims of sexual crimes?
Why is it so much more important to your organization that those reconfiguring their sexual identity have the run of any private facility, than it is that our children, our wives, our mothers and grandmothers feel as safe as possible in such vulnerable surroundings? Why, for you, does sexual freedom instantly, overwhelming trump every other civil right or legitimate concern?
Why must 99.9 percent (plus) of us be uncomfortable, embarrassed – and yes, potentially unsafe – just so a tenth of a percent can convince themselves they’re being properly respected and appreciated? Must all of the basic protections of our society be eliminated to assuage the implacable insecurities of these few?
Again, I’m not suggesting that the NCAA doesn’t have the right to do what it has done. But my questions seem reasonable and legitimate, and they’re the same questions being asked by millions of my fellow Americans – not just sports fans, not just North Carolinians. Don’t we have a right to hear your answers … to understand the thinking behind your decision, and know how you will provide for the privacy and safety of all of your fans?
The ball’s in your court.