Trinity staff and athlete respond to bathroom bill

Four Trinity staff and a senior athlete signed an open letter in opposition to Texas’ Senate Bill 6 (SB6). Nicknamed the ‘bathroom bill,’ the legislation would penalize public universities and other government buildings for permitting citizens to use bathroom and changing facilities besides those designated for the biological sex indicated on their birth certificate.

“SB6 would require transgender people to use bathrooms based on ‘biological sex,’ and would preempt local nondiscrimination ordinances that allow transgender Texans and visitors to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity,” the letter reads. “As long as bills like these remain a possibility, Texas is sending a clear signal that LGBT players, fans, coaches and administrators are not welcomed or respected, both on and off the field. This should worry Texas, as the athletic community has clearly stood by its LGBT constituents and against discriminatory legislation. We have seen this story unfold in North Carolina, and we do not want it to be repeated in Texas.”

The letter was authored by Athlete Ally, a nonprofit organization that facilitates allyship efforts among collegiate, professional and Olympic athletes in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. In 2014, Athlete Ally founder Hudson Taylor visited Trinity University to speak to an audience of over 350 student-athletes and others.

Aly Lilley ’09, assistant volleyball coach, was contacted by an Athlete Ally representative who asked her to sign and send it to other Trinity athletes.

“Even though Trinity wouldn’t be [affected by] the SB6 bill, because it’s a private institution, I really feel like [Trinity is] a university that really tries to welcome and accept people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, religions and races,” Lilley said.

Lilley is the adviser to the student-athlete advisory committee (SAAC), a group of representatives from Trinity’s athletic teams that works to improve the student-athlete experience on campus. Callum Squires, senior striker for the men’s soccer team and president of SAAC, also signed the letter.

“We as a committee have strived to make the athletic realm as accessible for student athletes of all gender identities [as possible]. The more we can cultivate a positive culture on our campus, the better,” Squires said.

Jacob Tingle ’95, director of experiential learning and sport management chair, offered his own criticism of SB6.

“It indicates, to me, that it’s part of a broader initiative to roll back hard-earned rights for Texas citizens,” Tingle said. “Clearly there’s a concerted national effort that whoever is funding these kinds of initiatives has a clear agenda, and it’s not to protect people in bathrooms, or whatever this bill is ostensibly about. Rolling back equal marriage rights, potentially allowing for discrimination in education and healthcare settings and other human services sector.”

Tingle noted that San Antonio updated its non-discrimination ordinance in 2013 to include new protected classes concerning gender identity, sexual orientation and veteran status.

“For a group of people who talk a whole lot about local control and local rights, it’s just ironic to me that they want to roll back and take away local control for an issue that they find, for whatever reasons, problematic or worrisome,” Tingle said.

Tingle detailed the economic harm that passing SB6 could bring to San Antonio, though he laments the necessity of relating the issue to economics. The concern is that professional sports associations will refrain from bringing business to Texas cities if the bill is passed, just as North Carolina’s own bathroom bill led the NCAA to move the 2017 championship tournament elsewhere.

“Equal rights is what we should all be about, but I also know that some people are moved by more base-level needs,” Tingle said. “The projected impact of the 2018 Men’s Final Four is a $135 million to the city of San Antonio. Over the course of that week, 71 thousand out-of-town, mostly out-of-state visitors to the city spending money in our hotels, in our restaurants — that’s a ton of money and a ton of exposure to the city of San Antonio and, as a result, to the state of Texas. If that’s the thing that impacts someone’s decision when he or she is at the state house, voting, then we absolutely have to push that number.”