One strong decision can send shockwaves through a nation. At least, that’s the hope. The Dallas Stars came forward this week as the first pro sports team in Texas to publicly oppose the “bathroom bill.” The bill, not yet passed, would require transgender people to use public washrooms corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificates.
The Stars won’t stand for it. The complete statement issued by team president Jim Lites:
"When the Stars moved to Dallas in 1993 we were fortunate to encounter success early on, and we've cultivated what we consider to be the best fan base in the National Hockey League. Dallas was warm and welcoming when we came to this great city 25 years ago, and it remains so today. The Dallas Stars stands strongly opposed to any legislation perceived as discriminatory, including proposed bathroom legislation. We welcome fans from all over the globe, and our roster boasts players from half a dozen countries. Dallas welcomes all, and we welcome all.
We're thrilled that Dallas will host the NHL Draft next year, and we're grateful that the NHL sees the true Dallas that we know and love, a Dallas that is friendly and vibrant. Dallas will be a wonderful host city and we're grateful for the NHL's business. We are proud of our home and want every visitor to feel at home here, too, and that' s why we oppose this discriminatory bathroom legislation."
Bravo, Dallas, for setting a great example, opposing a highly discriminatory bill. Some readers and sports fans may feel the need to jump on the Stars, or any writers sharing this news, with a “stick to sports” comment. But guess what: the Stars, just like every other NHL team, play in an arena, and each of those arenas has bathrooms. Any bill violating people’s rights to use the bathrooms in which they feel comfortable thus pertains to hockey in this case. It’s absolutely worth discussing.
It’s great to see the Stars take a progressive step in a league that isn’t always known for being the first to set such examples. The question now is whether the NHL will follow suit in the event the bill passes. It would reflect poorly on the NHL to host the 2018 draft there should that happen. It would send a message that the NHL doesn’t do enough to protect the LGBTQ community and undo the progress made by initiatives such as the You Can Play Club Ambassadors, the announcement that the NHL would have a player from each team represent inclusiveness.
As NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, “We hope and expect that the bill in that form will not be passed into law. We would obviously have to reassess the situation in the event that happens.”
Here’s hoping “reassess” would mean swift and firm action. The Stars took the first step toward promoting equality. If the bathroom bill passes, it will be up to the NHL to take the next step.