About 50 prominent athletes have signed on to an open letter from Athlete Ally condemning the anti-transgender "bathroom bill" making its way through the Texas legislature.
"As members of the athletic community, we're committed to upholding the very values that sport instills in each of us," the letter reads in part. "Values like fair play, equality, inclusion and respect. We believe that everyone should be afforded the same access, opportunity and experience both in sport and under the law. This is why we're joining together to speak out against Senate Bill 6 (SB6), and the dozen more anti-LGBT bills already filed, and the harm they would do to the state of Texas, to the transgender community, and to the sports we have come to know and love."
Senate Bill 6, which would require people to use restrooms designated for the gender on their birth certificate when in public schools and other government buildings, received final approval from the Texas Senate Wednesday and now heads to the House of Representatives. In addition to this measure, the letter notes, Texas is considering legislation that would prevent same-sex couples from getting married, allow campus groups to reject LGBT members, nullify local nondiscrimination ordinances, allow health care providers and educators to discriminate against LGBT people.
The signers are drawn from active and retired professional and Olympic athletes, representing a mix of LGBT people and straight allies. They include the WNBA's Brittney Griner, Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, and Danielle Robinson; the NFL's Chris Kluwe and David Kopay; Major League Soccer's Robbie Rogers; Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy; bodybuilder Aydian Dowling; tennis legend Martina Navratilova; Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis; and many more.
They send a warning that if SB 6 becomes law, Texas could lose out on many major sporting events slated to be held there, just as North Carolina did after enacting the anti-LGBT House Bill 2, which has similar restroom provisions. Over the next year, Texas is scheduled to host NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four, the World Golf Championships, the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four, and other high-profile events. Relocation of these events would cost the Texas economy hundreds of millions of dollars. "This would be a shame for the state of Texas, but it can be avoided," the letter notes.
"Texas can choose to uphold the values of sport by rejecting SB6 and other anti-LGBT bills, and the negative impact they would have," the missive concludes. "These bills are answers in search of a problem that doesn't exist. SB6 isolates, excludes, and others the transgender community and exacerbates many of the issues transgender Texans already face. The only solution that embodies the spirit of sport is to expand equality by embracing diversity. That diversity is inclusive of the LGBT community and is why we hope you will do the right thing and reject these discriminatory bills."
Read the full letter here.