What the NCAA Gets Wrong About “Gender Equality”

On Monday night, the NCAA issued a statement saying that the Association will be relocating all championships held in North Carolina to outside of the state, grossly abusing their power as the leader of collegiate athletics. The move is in response to North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2 (H.B.2) statute passed back in March. The NCAA joins the NBA and performers such as Bruce Springsteen in moving events out of the state because of the new law.

H.B.2 nullifies an ordinance passed by the city of Charlotte which would have allowed transgender men to enter into women’s restrooms and vice versa. H.B.2 mandates that in the case of multiple occupancy restrooms, one must use the restroom that corresponds to his or her biological biological sex. For example, a transgender man who is “transitioning” into a woman must use male restrooms, even though he may identify as a female. The law is meant to prevent transgender men from taking advantage of women and to ensure that women do not feel violated or unsafe in a restroom.To be clear, the North Carolina legislature is not saying that all transgenders are pedohpiles, but rather is attempting to preserve the dignity of both men and women and each individual’s right to feel safe in public restrooms. The governor’s office has also made it clear that once one has fully transitioned to a new gender, they may permanently change their sex on their birth certificate and use the restroom that corresponds to that gender.  

The NCAA’s action raises a number of questions. How serious, for example, are the NCAA’s anti-discrimination convictions? NCAA President Mark Emmert stated, “This decision is consistent with the NCAA’s long-standing core values of inclusion, student-athlete well-being and creating a culture of fairness.” If the Association is really that concerned about “fairness,” they would be cancelling all NCAA sanctioned events in the state, but they are not. NCAA sanctioned colleges such as Duke and UNC are still free to host regularly scheduled games. If the gender discrimination is so severe and harmful, why are they still allowing North Carolina schools to compete under the NCAA flag at all?

Moreover, the NCAA claims to be acting in the name of equality; they are not. Instead, they are aiming to destroy the “social construct” that is gender. H.B.2 defines a multiple occupancy restroom as “A facility designed or designated to be used by more than one person at a time where persons may be in various states of undress in the presence of other persons,” and states that this includes restrooms, locker rooms, and shower rooms. What the NCAA is effectively saying is that they support shared locker rooms and showers between men and women. They are asserting that there is nothing wrong with male and female collegiate athletes being in the presence of one another while they are “in various states of undress.” To the NCAA, the very concept of gender separation is transphobic. If the NCAA is not going to distinguish between the sexes in the locker room, what is stopping the organization from doing so on the field? By these standards, if a male soccer player is transitioning to a female, he should be allowed to play on the women’s soccer team, even though the school has a team for men. If the dignity of gender is so discriminatory, why not merge teams into unisex teams? This logic is harmful and threatens to completely dismantle what Title IX stands for. At what point is the line drawn? At what point does it go from gender equality to a society where gender does not exist at all?

The twisted logic does not end there, however. On Wednesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) followed the lead of the NCAA, relocating all planned championship games in North Carolina. This includes the ACC Football Championship that has been played in Charlotte, North Carolina for the past six years and brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. The statement reads, “…the ACC Council of Presidents reaffirmed our collective commitment to uphold the values of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination. Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites.” This is particularly troubling. Two of the fifteen ACC member schools, Boston College and the University of Notre Dame, are Catholic institutions. As a student at BC, I am truly baffled and discomforted by the fact that the University would validate such flawed logic. BC does not let men and women live on the same floor, nevermind share a locker room.

Catholic tradition, as I have continually been taught throughout my life, including my time here at BC, does not believe that people should “play God,” and change their bodies and thus, their gender. God created humans “in His image and likeness,” (GEN 1:27). The Catholic faith recognizes that men and women are anatomically different, but they are equal in the eyes of God.  The complementary differences of the genders, a product of God’s creation, should be celebrated, not changed. It is disconcerting that two of our nation’s greatest icons of Catholic values and education would support the bold notions that the NCAA is making. By supporting the NCAA, BC and Notre Dame are fundamentally denying the beliefs of the Catholic Church.

In short, it is not the place of the NCAA to wield this level of influence. The NCAA is not a federal institution. As a private organization, its role is best served when fulfilling its mission of creating an environment and culture where student-athletes can succeed on and off of the field. As for BC and Notre Dame, they should, as Catholic institutions, certainly remain committed to their values of equality and inclusivity, but not at the expense of denying the indispensable Catholic idea that all humans were created in God’s image.  

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