The State of Texas currently mulling a proposed “bathroom bill” that could prevent transgender people from using the public restroom they feel most comfortable in; in response, the NFL has issued a warning to the conservative state. A warning that a discriminatory new law could result in Texas losing out on future Super Bowl-hosting opportunities. As Texas discusses State Bill 8, otherwise known as “the Texas Privacy Act,” which would allow businesses to set their own bathroom policies. Similar to the controversial North Carolina “bathroom bill,” the proposed new Texas law would force individuals to use the bathroom, locker room or public shower room that corresponds with their birth gender.
As the Texas Lt. Governor’s office shared, the law would require that men and women use “separate, designated bathrooms” to protect “common decency, common sense and public safety.”
“SB 6 also ensures that businesses have the freedom to determine their own bathroom policies and that no public school can institute a bathroom policy that allows boys to go in girls restrooms, showers and locker rooms and girls to go in boys restrooms, showers and locker rooms.
“This issue is not about discrimination — it’s about public safety, protecting businesses and common sense. I congratulate Sen. Kolkhorst for filing SB 6 and for her commitment to protecting the privacy of Texans and keeping them safe.”
While the State of Texas claims that its new bathroom bill is not intended to be discriminatory, the NFL doesn’t seem to see State Bill 6 in quite the same way. As The Washington Post reported, NFL Spokesman Brian McCarthy responded to the proposed new legislation with an email, and confirmed that the NFL is standing by its long-held stance regarding inclusiveness. Something that the newly-introduced Texas bathroom bill is not, at least according to the NFL.
“The NFL embraces inclusiveness. 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.”
When the NFL issues a warning about proposed legislation possibly nixing NFL activity in a state, the organization isn’t merely blowing smoke. In fact, the NFL has gone as far as to pull a schedule Super Bowl from a state in the past, and precisely due to the state’s perceived discriminatory practices. That instance took place in Arizona in 1990, when the NFL moved the 1993 Super Bowl from the state to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
“If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law there, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events.”
The reason Arizona lost the Super Bowl? According to the NFL, the big game was moved because Arizona refused to pass a law that recognized Dr. Martin Luther King Day as a holiday. Again, in 2014, the NFL threatened to pull the Super Bowl from Arizona when the state was tossing around proposed legislation that would have allowed business to cite religious beliefs and legally deny services to individuals in the LGBTQ community.
Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick responded to the NFL and their statement against the proposed Texas bathroom bill with a reiteration that State Bill 6 is not about discrimination. Through a spokesman the Lt. Governor’s office claimed that, while openly supporting the proposed bathroom bill and even congratulating its sponsoring senator for her efforts to “keep Texans safe,” the office is also committed to making “every Texan” feel welcome at NFL games and other sporting events.
The Texas Lt. Governor’s office also implied that the media (and possibly the NFL) doesn’t have their facts straight with regard to the newly-introduced bathroom bill.
“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. There is no conflict with the NFL’s statement today and Senate Bill 6.”
Initially, Texas Governor Greg Abbott opted to stay mum about the bathroom bill NFL controversy while letting his Lt. Governor’s office comment on the potentially costly situation. However, as CBS Sports reported, that all changed on Saturday afternoon. That’s when Abbott mocked the NFL both for their response to the proposed Texas bathroom bill and the infamous “deflategate” scandal.
Despite the Texas governor’s big talk, it is possible that introducing a controversial bathroom bill as the rule of law in the state could be devastating for the state’s economy. Following North Carolina’s decision to institute its own bathroom bill, the state has seen multiple economic losses ranging from sporting events to concerts and even corporations no longer willing to conduct business in the state.
“Sports and tourism folks in North Carolina say this has been devastating for them. When an event is canceled, hotel rooms sit empty, that doesn’t mean the hotel loses revenue, it means the local restaurants and bars, the family that own a parking lot or garage, they lose revenue.”
Texas last hosted a Super Bowl in 2011 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. While the NFL has already filled its Super Bowl slots until 2022, the proposed new Texas bathroom bill could potentially prevent the state from being awarded the honor of hosting the event beyond that point.
[Featured Image by John Arehart/Shutterstock]