On Wednesday afternoon, the Dallas Stars became the first professional sports franchise to come out against the proposed “Bathroom Bill” being considered by the Texas legislature during their special session this month.
Essentially, the proposed bill would require people to use the bathroom that matches their “biological sex” in all governmental buildings, including public schools and public universities. The state-wide law would pre-empt any local non-discrimination measures that would allow someone to use the bathroom that matches with their gender identity.
Taking a stance against the “Bathroom Bill” in Texas aligns the Dallas Stars with the direction of the National Hockey League, who have partnered for several years now with the You Can Play Project to promote inclusion in sports, including a focus on the LGBTQIA community.
After news of the NHL’s draft coming to Dallas for the 2018 draft next summer, You Can Play issued the following statement:
“We would encourage our partners at the NHL to carefully consider the message sent to fans – all fans – by holding the 2018 NHL Draft celebration in a state that has chosen to write discrimination into law. Hosting events like the draft is a privilege. We believe events like this should be held in states, cities and venues where all fans, athletes and their families feel welcome.
Awarding events like a draft, all-star game or major championship game, by any league or sports organization, is a business reward and a substantial partnership. This time, the draft sends a message that the partnership being built with Texas, and the business of sport, is more important than the individual dignity of fans and athletes.
Finally, it’s disappointing that an event meant to celebrate the start of young careers will be mentioned in the same conversation as the damning statistics about the effect of discrimination and bullying on the youth of Texas. Should Dallas host the draft, we look forward to working with the NHL to lift up all athletes, coaches and fans – not just the ones some Texas politicians think matter.
We truly believe that Hockey is for Everyone and the NHL has a unique opportunity to build on its leadership in supporting LGBTQ athletes and fans.”
It’s not a big surprise that the Stars would subsequently come out vocally opposed to the “Bathroom Bill”. After all, the NHL Draft next summer is estimated to bring in approximately $14 million in economic impact to the Dallas area. Being unable to attract other events in the future, such as the All-Star Game, would place Dallas at a disadvantage relative to other cities in the NHL looking to host these marquee events.
And the precedence for moving a marquee event such as the draft has already been set. The NBA pulled their All-Star game out of Charlotte after North Carolina passed similar legislation. The NCAA will not host any men’s basketball games as part of their March Madness tournament in the state, either.
The Stars are hardly the only business to come out opposed to the proposed legislation, though they are the first professional sports team to take a stance publicly so far. IBM, Apple, AT&T, Amazon, Google, Texas Instruments, Facebook, American Airlines, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil are just some heavy hitters that have voiced their opposition to the legislation publicly.
It’s been reported that the Dallas Cowboys have been working behind the scenes in opposition to the “Bathroom Bill”. The Stars may be just the vanguard to professional sports teams’ public opposition to this legislation.