It didn’t last long, but it sent the message.
When organizers from Soulforce unfurled their pro-LGBTQ banner at the women’s basketball national championship game on Sunday, they held it aloft for about 15 seconds before security shut them down.
"We waited until the half time buzzer sounded to lift up our banner calling on the NCAA to have our backs,” said Soulforce executive director Haven Herrin. “Our Soulforce team actually held it aloft court side far longer than we expected, given the security force.”
Banners of the size of the one Soulforce used to demonstrate are prohibited at the Final Four and most big-time sporting events. Organizers would not tell security or police how they got the banner into the venue.
While brief, the message was powerful and clear: If the NCAA is to hold itself to its own values and uphold the values of Title IX, it must continue to avoid the state of North Carolina and states with similar anti-LGBTQ laws, and it should remove members that discriminate against LGBTQ people.
"We are as concerned about the dozens of anti-LGBTQI schools they've got on their roster as we are about what the NCAA is going to do in North Carolina,” Herrin said. “The Atlantic Coast Conference has already given in to the fake repeal, and we need to know that the NCAA is going to stay strong and keep using its power to support our community."
The NCAA allows member schools to fire coaches, and to kick students out of school, simply for being LGBT. The NCAA will announce later this week if it will return championship-level events to North Carolina.
Still, D.J. Judson, Soulforce's nonviolence and direct action consultant, called what the NCAA has done in North Carolina until now “great work” in sending messages of support to LGBTQ kids.
Visit the organization’s Facebook page for various stories and accounts of the action.
Hear members of Soulforce talk about their action, and watch them unfurl the banner at the event by clicking here.
You can follow Soulforce on Twitter.