Nationally ranked ultimate frisbee teams help fight discrimination in NC
North Carolina was the host for the USA Ultimate College Championship's for ultimate frisbee. Teams from across the country came to the state, but for some coming after the passage of the discriminatory HB2 bill was a difficult choice.
When Addy Frattura’s University of Washington team qualified for USA Ultimate’s College Championships her immediate reaction was joy mixed with disappointment as she realized that this would mean travelling to North Carolina -- whose legislature had recently passed the anti-LGBT House Bill 2. Deciding to participate was a difficult decision for her as well as the other teams, as many of them were considering not coming to North Carolina at all because of HB2.
In March, the North Carolina state legislature had passed HB2, a wide ranging bill that revoked all municipal LGBT protections across the state and prevented transgender North Carolinians from using the bathroom that matches their gender. The bill also took away the right for residents to sue for employment discrimination of all types in state court and forbid local municipalities from setting their own minimum wage.
“There are players on our team who are directly affected by legislation such as HB2,” said Frattura. “There are players within the ultimate community who have been directly affected by many forms of discrimination, and there are amazing allies that fight at our side. We found it crucial that our community, which prides itself on creating inclusive spaces for all identities, responded to such hateful discrimination as HB2”. Frattura and her coach, Kyle Weisbrod, reached out to other teams attending the College Championships who also wanted to take action against HB2 during their time in North Carolina. In turn, they reached out to support LGBT groups working to repeal HB2, such as TurnOUT! NC, a joint project of Equality NC and the Human Rights Campaign. The day before the tournament started, they met in a city park in North Raleigh to take action, setting out to talk with voters about what the legislature had done.
“In canvassing to repeal HB2 with local organizations in NC were able to have folks sign postcards to be mailed in to state legislators to repeal the bill,” said Frattura. As a result of the effort, 32 volunteers collected 69 signed postcards in support of the repeal of HB2, and over 100 connections and conversations held with North Carolina voters.
"Volunteering with Equality NC and TurnOUT NC was not an option in my mind, it was a necessity,” said Anne Paden, a player from Western Washington University. “When [our team] decided to attend Nationals our one stipulation was that we had to go in a positive way. We realized that we were able to go home to Washington state at the end of our four day weekend, but the people of NC live HB2 day in and day out. I think it was an important step for us to not only realize this, but act on it. Equality NC and TurnOUT NC did us a huge favor in helping us help them."
Throughout the weekend, players continued to take action against HB2. Team recorded video testimonials about why the law should be repealed, how opposition to law is connected to Ultimate’s ‘Spirit of the Game’ and what fighting against HB2 means to individuals and teams. Teams took photos with whiteboards with statements in opposition to HB2, and specifically patronized businesses that had taken stands against HB2.