Almost a week after Houston hosted Super Bowl LI, the NFL has weighed in on what Texas’ so-called bathroom bill could mean for future championship football games in Texas.
When it comes to awarding future events to the state, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy on Friday said proposals that are “discriminatory or inconsistent with our values” would “certainly be a factor” if they were to be signed into law.
“We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” McCarthy said in a statement.
The NFL’s statement comes amid a growing debate over Senate Bill 6, which would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on “biological sex” and would pre-empt local nondiscrimination ordinances that allow transgender Texans to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
The legislation does exempt stadiums, convention centers and entertainment venues that are owned or leased by a governmental entity from having to follow the state’s bathroom policies. That would include NRG Stadium in Houston where the Super Bowl was held.
NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy
The NFL has selected future Super Bowl sites through 2021, none of which are in Texas. Dallas hosted the game in 2011 and three Super Bowls have been played in Texas since 2004, which is second only to Florida.
Spokespeople for the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans did not immediately return emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Responding to the NFL’s statement, a spokesman for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick pointed to that exemption in saying there is “no conflict” with Senate Bill 6.
“Despite persistent misinformation in the media, under Senate Bill 6, all Texas teams will be able to set their own policies at the stadiums and arenas where they play and hold their events,” Patrick spokesman Alejandro Garcia said in a statement.
But Senate Bill 6 would apply to most college stadiums, which would be required to prohibit transgender Texans form using the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Under the bill, if a private association, business or sports league leased out a publicly owned venue for an event, the state or local governments that oversee that venue would have no say in the bathroom policies there for that event.
Similar bathroom legislation in North Carolina led the NCAA to move seven championship games during the 2016-17 school year out of the state. The NCAA has not responded to requests for comment regarding the Texas proposal.
The Super Bowl is scheduled to take place in other states through at least 2021.
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