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Nine in 10 US colleges lack protections for trans athletes

Rachel Badham April 8, 2021

LGBTQ+ advocacy group Athlete Ally’s annual report, known as the Athletic Equality Index, found the majority of US college athletic departments are lacking protections for LGBTQ+ athletes and staff. The research found only 2.8% of athletes compete in departments which fully protect LGBTQ+ sportspersons from discrimination, while 92% of departments lack comprehensive policies to protect trans people.

Furthermore, out of 9,000 spectators interviewed as part of the study, the majority believed athletic environments were unwelcoming places for LGBTQ+ people, while 80% of departments had no code of conduct for fans. Out of 357 schools that play in Division 1 sports, only 10 achieved a perfect score of 100 on LGBTQ+ inclusion. 7 schools scored a 0. 

The results come after a handful of states proposed bills aiming to ban trans athletes from participating in school sports. Mississippi was the first state to officially pass the bill this year, and Tennessee is following closely behind. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recently condemned the widespread hostility towards trans athletes, with president Mark Emmert writing a letter to the Human Rights Campaign where he said he is “concerned” about the situation.

He stated that the proposals are “harmful to transgender student-athletes” and said they contradict “the NCAA’s core values of inclusivity, respect, and the equitable treatment of all individuals”, adding: “The NCAA Board of Governors policy requires championship host sites to demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination.”

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