(March 17, 2016, Charlotte, NC) In a March 9, 2016 letter to the NCAA President, Executive Team and Board of Governors, Campus Pride and Soulforce formally asked the organization to divest from all religious campuses that have requested discriminatory Title IX waivers toward LGBTQ youth. Yesterday, a response was sent from the NCAA highlighting the following:
“… the Association values diversity and inclusion and its importance in higher education through sports. Our diverse membership comprising over 1,100 schools all serve to educate students while also preserving individual institutional values. In doing so, the landscape of higher education offers students the opportunity to select from schools that value various attributes.
… all schools send their requests for Title IX exemption waivers directly to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). ….we do not play any role in making waiver decisions.”
The following statement reacting to the NCAA response can be attributed to Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride and Haven Herrin, Executive Director of Soulforce:
“We are deeply disappointed by the lack of leadership and responsibility demonstrated in the response to our letter. The NCAA is an organization with a stated commitment to fairness and inclusion of LGBTQ student athletes. Claiming that the Department of Education is to blame for the NCAA’s inability to divest from discriminatory member institutions, instead of owning up to their complicity, is not the kind of leadership we should expect from the NCAA. We expect the NCAA to be honest that these religious schools are flouting the NCAA’s own core values.
How can the NCAA state that they support LGBTQ inclusion in their rules and programs, then turn their back on students at schools that openly discriminate? LGBTQ-inclusive campuses have signed up for fair play, not discrimination.
NCAA teams from LGBTQ-inclusive campuses would be within reason to refuse to play any team that has chosen to discriminate openly against LGBTQ young people. It is not simply an act of solidarity; it would be living the NCAA’s own principles.
The students we work with are clear: actions speak louder than words. Institutional values that allow discrimination are wrong. You cannot justify ‘preserving individual institutional values’ that directly harm a group of people. If the NCAA cannot stand with LGBTQ students facing discrimination and unsafe school environments, then the organization has a long road ahead to being considered a truly inclusive organization.”
For any questions or for more information, please contact Campus Pride at firstname.lastname@example.org or Soulforce at email@example.com.
About Campus Pride
Campus Pride is the leading national educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students and campus groups building future leaders and safer, more LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. The organization provides resources and services to thousands of college students and nearly 1400 campuses annually. Learn more online at CampusPride.org.
Soulforce’s purpose is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, go to Soulforce.org.