FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dallas, TX, April 3, 2017 – Activists from Soulforce — which works for the liberation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) students on Christian campuses among other programs — were detained by police and security and threatened with criminal trespassing despite never receiving a trespass warning and having tickets to the Final Four championship game on Sunday.
Soulforce activists were stopped before entering the arena and questioned by security and police for several minutes. They were eventually allowed to take their seats but were followed by security every time a member went to the restroom or concession stand. Soulforce unfurled a banner, during halftime to respect the players, that urged NCAA to stand in solidarity with LGBTQI people on religious campuses. The banner was snatched by security and Soulforce was then detained again.
“The NCAA still has 30 schools that actively sought the right to discriminate against women, trans, and queer people on their campuses,” said Yaz Mendez Nuñez, Soulforce Programs Director. “Those schools are not in line with NCAA values and they are not safe places to host NCAA games.”
At least 30 members schools of the NCAA have applied for Title IX exemptions for a range of gender justice issues, like being pregnant or transgender. The Trump administration has now offered a blanket waiver to all religious schools. That waiver grants the schools the legal freedom to discipline, expel, or fire people who break the religiously motivated rules. Unlike the response to HB2, NCAA has remained virtually silent as 30 member schools have guidelines that goes against the NCAA’s nondiscrimination policies.
The current question put to the NCAA in North Carolina is whether the organization will allow championship games to return to the state, but the debate does not address the issue of member schools that have anti-LGBTQI policies and would still be able to host games under the current rules.
“The experience was intense. While we were questioned the first time, arena officials alluded to potential violence saying that ‘these are Texas fans and you don’t know what they’ll do if you disrupt their game,’” Haven Herrin, Director of Soulforce and one of the three individuals detained by NCAA. “The surveillance and escorting of our people, many of which are trans and/or non binary, to the restroom is not the type of response we expect from an organization claiming allyship to LGBTQI community.”
After 15 minutes, Soulforce was eventually released without charges pressed. Soulforce demands the NCAA follows through with their commitment to inclusivity and nondiscrimination and urge the 30 member schools to #GiveBackIX.
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.