North Carolina loses college sports championships over 'bathroom' law

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Sept 12 (Reuters) - The governing board for U.S. college athletics said on Monday it will move seven championship sporting events out of North Carolina to protest a state law it deems discriminatory to transgender individuals.

It is illegal for anyone in the state to use a public restroom that does not match the gender they were assigned at birth.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) cited the law in its decision to relocate the events, which include the first two rounds of the "March Madness" men's basketball playoffs.

Two months ago the National Basketball Association moved its 2017 pro All-Star Game from North Carolina to New Orleans for the same reason.

RELATED: North Carolina transgender bathroom law

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DURHAM, NC - MAY 10: The 'We Are Not This' slogan is posted at the entrances to Bull McCabes Irish Pub on May 10, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 (HB2) that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Elaine Martin, right, listens as Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, speaks during a press conference to announce filing of federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
Joaquin Carcano, center, the lead plaintiff in the case, speaks during a press conference to announce filing of federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. Joaquin was born a woman and is now a man. Simone Bell with Lambda Law is at left; Chris Brook with the ACLU is at right. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
TO GO AFP STORY BY BRIGITTE DUSSEAU - Transgender delegates Jamie Shier (L) and Janice Covington pose for photographs at the Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 4, 2012. The Democratic National Convention Committee announced Wednesday that US President Barack Obama would move his acceptance speech from the outdoor Bank of America Stadium to the indoor Time Warner Cable Arena due to predictions of thunderstorms. AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read BRIGITTE DUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages)
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Access to public restrooms, locker rooms and changing areas has become a flashpoint in the battle over transgender rights in the United States as the North Carolina law has sparked boycotts by a number of corporations and entertainers.

North Carolina Republican Party spokeswoman Kami Mueller said the NCAA decision was "so absurd it's almost comical," according to a statement posted on Twitter.

The governing board said it was also stripping North Carolina of soccer, golf, tennis, lacrosse and baseball events, and would determine new locations for those competitions in the near future.

The NCAA also pointed to North Carolina statutes that it said override local laws designed to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

It said its decision was in line with NCAA policy that bans championships in states that display the Confederate battle flag of the U.S. Civil War or authorize sports wagering and at schools that use "hostile or abusive" Native American imagery.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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