Mississippi’s anti-LGBTQ laws lead to cancellation of home baseball series for university

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For nearly two years, New York State has enforced a strict travel ban for public institutions on all non-essential travel to states where legislatures have passed harsh anti-LGBTQ laws.

This week, the ban cost the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) three Division I baseball games.

The ban was first implemented by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo in March of 2016 after North Carolina passed their controversial HB2 bill, which prohibited transgender residents from using restrooms corresponding to their gender identity, among other things. Even though the state amended the law after losing billions of dollars in business, many of the worst provisions in the bill remained in place, and so too did New York’s ban. Several NCAA Division I games and tournaments have since been relocated, postponed, or canceled as a result.

Less than two weeks after he signed the North Carolina executive order, Cuomo also levied a ban on non-essential state travel to Mississippi, which passed a similar anti-LGBTQ bill under the guise of “religious freedom.”

The Seawolves, Stony Brook University’s Division I baseball team, were scheduled to face Southern Mississippi for a three-game series in late February. But Stony Brook announced they were canceling their trip to Mississippi, citing the state’s anti-LGBTQ law. Instead, USM will replace those games with a road trip to neighboring Texas, losing out on three lucrative home games.

“I’m sure it’s going to cost us for sure,” USM head coach Scott Berry told the Biloxi Sun Herald. “That’s three gates and everything that goes into a game day in terms of revenue.”

Stony Brook is one of four public Division I athletics programs in New York. SUNY Albany was forced to cancel a men’s basketball game at Duke University last season because of the ban, and Stony Brook women’s lacrosse had their seeding changed in the 2017 NCAA Tournament in order to avoid a road matchup at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The NCAA itself pulled several marquee events from North Carolina as a result of the legislature’s homophobia, including the first two rounds of last year’s March Madness tournament and the semifinal and championship games of the women’s lacrosse tournament.