Safety and Inclusion at WFTDA Events

As many people have expressed, no matter where we host our events there is potential for problematic and sometimes unsafe areas. Specifically, our membership expressed a concern about hosting an event in the state of North Carolina. In 2016, the Governor of North Carolina signed a bill that actively discriminated against members of the transgender community and preempted any local non-discrimination ordinances. Since 2016, the official bill has been repealed, but there are still restrictions on the rights of LGBTQ people and local non-discrimination laws. These actions are still felt and recognized as hostile by members of the LGBTQ community, including LGBTQ communities in North Carolina.

We want to be honest — choosing North Carolina was strategic for a few reasons. First, because the hosts, Greensboro Roller Derby, submitted a stellar bid that met our existing criteria for hosting a Playoffs tournament. Their commitment to the WFTDA and our values, as well as their connections in their home area of Winston-Salem and Greensboro, was paramount. Additionally, as with all of our events, we understand that we have an opportunity to represent ourselves to the host area. Bringing in thousands of roller derby players, fans, officials and community members has a huge impact on the areas that we choose for tournaments. It is always an opportunity for us to introduce and make visible our community of excellence through sport.

We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure safety in the areas that we have control over. Specifically, tournaments events and any venue, restaurant, bar or hotel we work with going forward. The Visit Winston-Salem board is very proactive in making this a welcoming and safe location and are part of the Sports Diversity Leadership Council.

We are implementing standards across our tournaments, which include new policies around the bidding and selection process. The implementation of the Tournament Selection Panel that will include members of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee will convene for the 2020 bidding process.

In addition, for this tournament season we are working with our host leagues and venues to ensure that we are prepared for anything — both now and going forward.

  • The WFTDA and Equality North Carolina are working together to bring resources in advance of the event, as well as a presence at the event in Winston-Salem.
  • Utilizing high-level volunteers from our Host Leagues as Safety and Inclusion Managers, who are trained onsite advocates whose job will include taking complaints, initial contact for the implementation of the Tournament Code of Conduct, ensuring compliance by venues with our inclusion expectations and de-escalation should there be any kind of conflict that may arise.
  • Working with the host hotels, tournament venues, and all official after party venues to provide information and training on our community and our expectations for a successful event.
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