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The NCAA just let North Carolina off the hook after the state partially repealed its anti-LGBTQ law

LGBTQ advocates are not happy with the decision.

LGBTQ advocates aren’t happy with the partial repeal of North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ law, saying it leaves too much of the old law in place. But on Tuesday, the biggest governing body for college sports said that the “repeal” is good enough.

Previously, the NCAA had joined in boycotts of North Carolina in response to HB2, the anti-LGBTQ law, and barred the state from hosting championship games. But the NCAA apparently reconsidered when North Carolina lawmakers last week reached a repeal compromise on HB2 — barely avoiding the NCAA’s stated deadline before its boycott became permanent.

“We are actively determining site selections, and this new law has minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment,” the NCAA said in a statement. “If we find that our expectations of a discrimination-free environment are not met, we will not hesitate to take necessary action at any time.”

LGBTQ advocates quickly condemned the move. “The NCAA's decision to backtrack on their vow to protect LGBTQ players, employees, and fans is deeply disappointing and puts people at risk," HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “After drawing a line in the sand and calling for repeal of HB2, the NCAA simply let North Carolina lawmakers off the hook."

What HB2 and its partial repeal did

HB2 had two major parts: It overturned and banned local statutes that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And it prohibited transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity in schools and government buildings — due to a baseless myth that letting trans people use the bathroom or locker room for their gender identity would lead to men posing as trans to sexually harass and assault women in women’s facilities.

The partial repeal last week got rid of the latter: It makes it so state and local agencies in North Carolina can no longer regulate access to bathrooms or locker rooms, effectively ending the ban on trans people using the bathroom or locker room for their gender identity.

But the measure did not fully repeal the other part of HB2. It does seem to let nondiscrimination laws passed by local governments before HB2 kick back into effect. But it also continues to prohibit local governments from passing nondiscrimination laws until December 1, 2020, so cities like Charlotte over the next three years still won’t be able to pass a new law that bans discrimination against LGBTQ people. And the deal permanently prevents all local and statewide government agencies in North Carolina from setting up trans-friendly bathroom or locker room policies, since they’ll no longer be allowed to regulate access to these facilities.

Since North Carolina has no statewide nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people, it will continue to be legal across much of the state for an employer to fire someone, a landlord to evict someone, and a business to kick someone out or engage in other kinds of discrimination solely because of the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

In fact, under the deal, private businesses will still be allowed to deny trans people the bathroom for their gender identity — and local governments will be powerless to stop them.

Still, the partial repeal moved North Carolina closer to the federal government and most other states in the country, which do not have nondiscrimination laws that explicitly prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination. That apparently was satisfactory for the NCAA.

“We have been assured by the state that this new law allows the NCAA to enact its inclusive policies by contract with communities, universities, arenas, hotels, and other service providers that are doing business with us, our students, other participants, and fans,” the NCAA said. “Further, outside of bathroom facilities, the new law allows our campuses to maintain their own policies against discrimination, including protecting LGBTQ rights, and allows cities’ existing nondiscrimination ordinances, including LBGTQ protections, to remain effective.”

So it may not be enough for LGBTQ advocates. But for the NCAA, it will do.

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