NCAA monitoring North Carolina anti-discrimination law

RALEIGH, N.C. -- While the NCAA continues to monitor the situation, major corporations took stands Thursday against a new North Carolina law that bans anti-discrimination measures based on sexual orientation and gender identity and requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their birth certificates.

American Airlines, which operates its second-largest hub in Charlotte, joined biotech company Biogen and payments processor PayPal as corporations condemning the new law.

Supporters of the law, signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday night, say it protects all people from having to share bathrooms with those who make them feel unsafe. Advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights call the law a "devastating'' setback that they might challenge in court.

The NCAA, which is scheduled to hold men's basketball tournament games in Greensboro in 2017 and Charlotte in 2018, issued a statement saying it's monitoring the situation and takes diversity into account when it chooses its event sites.

"Our commitment to the fair treatment of all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, has not changed and is at the core of our NCAA values," the organization's statement said. "It is our expectation that all people will be welcomed and treated with respect in cities that host our NCAA championships and events.''

ESPN, which is considering Charlotte as a new home for the Summer X Games, said in a statement that it is also monitoring the situation.

"At ESPN, we embrace diversity and inclusion and will evaluate all of our options as we seek a new city for the X Games."

The NBA, which is scheduled to hold the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte, also released a statement on the issue via Twitter.

"The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events," the league's statement read. "We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte."

The impact on North Carolina jobs will take time to quantify, but the law's critics warned that North Carolina risks losing billions in federal education dollars by conflicting with Title IX anti-discrimination regulations that apply in public schools.

Determined to undo a Charlotte ordinance that would have protected transgender people who use restrooms aligned with their gender identity, the North Carolina Legislature convened a special session Wednesday night to produce the new law, which prevents all cities and counties in the state from passing their own anti-discrimination rules.

The new law also prohibits local governments from requiring businesses to pay workers more than the state's minimum wage, currently set at $7.25 an hour. McCrory had sought a bill dealing exclusively with bathrooms but signed it anyway.

Critics of the Charlotte ordinance, which would have taken effect in North Carolina's largest city on April 1, focused on its language involving transgender people and restrooms.

McCrory, who was the mayor of Charlotte for 14 years, said the new law was "passed by a bipartisan majority to stop this breach of basic privacy and etiquette.''

The law's supporters said they had to protect the safety of women and children, arguing that even sex offenders could enter any restroom or locker room by claiming to identify as transgender.

"It's common sense -- biological men should not be in women's showers, locker rooms and bathrooms,'' said Rep. Dean Arp, R-Monroe, before the House voted 82-26 in favor. Twelve House Democrats joined all Republicans present in voting for the bill, but in the Senate, all Democratic members walked out in protest, leaving Republicans to voice unanimous approval.

"We choose not to participate in this farce,'' Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, D-Raleigh, said.

Gay rights leaders and transgender people said the law demonizes them and espouses bogus claims about risks in bathrooms to defeat a much broader range of protections, denying LGBT people the right to get a hotel room, hail a taxi or dine at a restaurant without fear.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who pressed for the anti-discrimination ordinance, said in a statement that the General Assembly "is on the wrong side of history.''

McCrory countered that Roberts and the City Council had overreached into "the most personal of settings.''

Bathroom use has proved to be a potent wedge issue for opponents of LGBT rights protections around the country. Last year, an anti-discrimination law in Houston was overwhelmingly voted down in a referendum, but LGBT advocates have had some victories, too. South Dakota's legislature failed to override Gov. Dennis Daugaard's veto of a bill requiring students to use bathrooms corresponding to their birth gender, and a similar bill in Tennessee died Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.