After Super Bowl, NFL Raises Prospect of Texas “Bathroom Bill” Impacting Future Games

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

Almost a week after Houston hosted Super Bowl LI, the National Football League 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 “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.  

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. 

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Top image: New England Patriots' James White (R) scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. / photo credit: Adrees Latif / REUTERS

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