On July 19, 2022, USA Fencing announced the National Schedule for the upcoming 2022-2023 season. Allow me to begin this post with two acknowledgments:
- The contracts for these venues were likely locked in long before the Supreme Court issued the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Decision
- NAC locations are determined based on which metropolitan hubs are going to give the organization the best price
With that out of the way, let’s discuss what’s wrong with the NAC schedule as spelled out in four maps:
Map #1: 5/7 NAC’s Will be Held in States where Abortion is Illegal or Likely to Become Illegal
In the organization’s mission statement, USA Fencing claims to promote “anti-discrimination on the grounds of race, disability status, gender, gender identity, color, ethnicity, religion, political opinions, family status or other innate attribute is respected.”
With the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions, a number of states have seized the opportunity to immediately ban a woman’s right to an abortion, including 5/7 states we intend to hold NAC’s in 2022-2023.
Suppose, at the March NAC a pregnant coach/competitor/parent/referee/volunteer suffers an ectopic pregnancy and requires an emergency abortion in order to live. In Texas, they’re out of luck. In Utah, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arizona, they’re also in trouble.
A consideration for the National Office in the future: are we really living our anti-discrimination policy if we intend to hold events in States with regressive policies that see women as no more than baby producers where the State holds dominion over their bodies? Answer: no.
Map #2 and #3: We’re Holding NAC’s in States with Regressive LGBTQ Policies
The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) tracks all 50 states’ legislatures for “policies that shape LGBTQ people’s lives,” namely laws that promote “Relationship & Parental Recognition, Nondiscrimination, Religious Exemptions, LGBTQ Youth, Health Care, Criminal Justice, and Identity Documents.”
In a map that bears shocking resemblance to the abortion map (shocking absolutely no one), policy tallies for Kentucky, Missouri, Texas, and Arizona were rated as poor.
By other metrics, move.org rated states based on a number of variables including non-discrimination laws, conversion therapy laws, hate crime laws, transgender health care, and other variables. Arizona and Texas were among their worst rated states with Arizona receiving a 17.1/100 rating, and Texas receiving a 13.9/100 rating.
Additionally, we are holding NAC’s in four states in which transgender youth athletes are banned from participating in youth sports:
In future scheduling, it’s important we factor in the safety and guaranteed participation for all athletes and groups identified by the organization’s anti-discrimination policy.
Map #4: No Events in Regions 3 and 6, Areas that Account for 50% of Membership
I will first tip my hat to USA Fencing for not scheduling any events in “Region Whatevz.” Let’s face it though: the data shows that 50% of USA Fencing’s competitive membership resides in Regions 3 and 6. After holding recent events in Virginia Beach, Richmond, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, it seems odd to completely omit events from Region 3 and 6 where a good number of the Northeast States are in drivable distance of fencing epicenters.
The real oddity here though is the decision to hold three events in region 4. Though Region 4 accounts for 22% of membership, the state of Arizona holds 174 competitive members (.89% of USA Fencing’s Competitive Members), Utah has 89 members (.45% of USA Fencing’s Competitive Members), and 429 in Colorado (2.2% of USA Fencing’s competitive members).
Close to none of these locations (sans Phoenix from SoCal) are driving distance from any fencing hubs, and Salt Lake City only has 90 hubs in the world that offers direct flights (that’s very low).
Call to Action
As USA Fencing already begins preliminary planning to consider events for the 2023-2024 season, I urge the organization to consider our anti-discrimination policy for states they consider for hosting, so that both pregnant persons and LGBTQ members are considered as part of the criteria for evaluation.
Further, while of course every event can’t be on the East Coast, I’d urge USA Fencing to be more cognizant of travel considerations for the regions that encompass 50%+ of the organization’s membership.