With the newest response from FIRST regarding the World Championships being held in Texas, it’s clear that things like emails and social media backlash aren’t going to be enough to persuade FIRST to move champs. If you’re unaware of what’s been going on, tl:dr is Texas is not safe for LGBTQIA+ students, mentors, and volunteers. FIRST continues to host the Worlds event, despite protest from the community.
I am looking for help from the community to find out how to actually get this message across to FIRST, in a way that will actually have an impact on them and force them to protect their members. I cannot ask any of you to actually go and do anything, but I know there are enough of us that we could come up with some truly meaningful forms of protest.
Hi, I’m gonna be the first (heh pun) one to jump in here and say, there’s really two types of things people have discussed about taking a stand for trans people around champs. First is things like 3636 having their team flag just be the trans flag. Second is things like an champs like experience somewhere else (there’s a thread somewhere). I’d like to add one more thing to the list, what can we do as a community to keep trans people who choose to attend champs in 2023 safe, because if FIRST won’t, we will. (I’m just a rookie, please be nice)
As someone who lives in Texas. I don’t agree with this blanket statement.
I don’t always feel correct posting in threads regarding LGBTQ+ and Texas because there is a ton of nuance, details and other specific knowledge I am missing. I am not here to comment on the letter of what is, was, or will be law. But to me there seems to be a gap between law and enforcement. Safety of a group of people may be an issue in terms of the laws politicians have created, but in reality they are unenforceable and meaningless in terms of every day activities. This is also true the other way around, law may not exist but a group is harassed/marginalized. We know this last point is historically true.
At any rate, to inform those of us not living in TX: Is any policy on the books actually receiving any kind of enforcement? How likely to be enforced in the future? Or any level that could reasonably be called unsafe (or do we not know this yet)?
all right everyone, time to pack up the thread and lock it
so I suppose this means you are, personally, offering to protect the queer students in Texas from state authorities? you’ll be resisting any police actions that come from these bills? because I can’t otherwise understand how you’re able to just sort of, say that Texas is safe for queer children and adults, when the laws being passed say otherwise.
Ultimately, this issue at hand here is that the threat to queer students in Texas isn’t just some bigots here and there - the threat is from the state government. We all want to take steps to make FIRST events safe for queer people, which is doable if we’re just talking about like, culture, event rules, and whatnot. But we are talking about laws, police, prosecutors. Wearing a flag pin doesn’t stop an arrest.
We are in a place where to make a Championship safe for queer children in Texas, it would require protecting students from state authorities, as well as bounty-hunter lawsuits (from the drag bill). I don’t think anyone is reckoning with how truly monumental of an ask this is, and how we cannot reasonably expect groups of volunteers to risk their own possible arrest of criminal charges to fight unjust laws. It would be absurd for a nonprofit to ask its volunteers to challenge state authority so directly. Therefore, a safe Championship for queer students cannot exist in Texas under these current and proposed laws.
This is unsettling and relatively unprecedented in our lifetimes. Your intuition of “oh, it’ll work itself out” or “those laws won’t be enforced” or “it isn’t meant to target these folks”, all of those assumptions are no longer safe to make. We must reckon with the consequences of the increasingly fascist governments that FIRST repeatedly associates with.
We should encourage FIRST to pull out of Texas entirely, including FiT. In the past similar moves by high school sporting leagues has significantly moved the political needle, notably in Arkansas where the heir to the Walmart throne is a huge supporter of both highschool bike racing and transgender rights.
This is borderline gaslighting all of Texas.
Pulling FIRST, including FIT, entirely out of Texas does not improve the safety of anyone—Texas residents or otherwise*. Denying people in a certain region access to FIRST programs is generally not inspirational, and there’s not any benefits which would make it necessary.
In contrast, moving champs out of Texas improves the safety of the many trans people who will be attending champs from other states by not subjecting them to the jurisdiction of Texas state law enforcement and bounty hunters. Additionally, nothing FIRST is removed from anyone by relocating champs.
When we ask FIRST to move champs, we’re not asking for a political boycott, we’re asking for them to protect the people who engage with their programs.
*ik NM is in FiT, not sure how that impacts NM participants
If it gets to the point where Texas is charging trans people with crimes for simply existing and FIRST continues to do business with Texas, that is the point I will no longer be participating in FIRST full stop. That’s my line. Same goes for any state that does something similar.
I live in the Oaklawn neighborhood of Dallas, TX. I can’t speak for anywhere other than where I live.
Oaklawn has an open, out, and proud queer community. It’s more vibrant than anything I remember from when I lived in Philadelphia*.
I haven’t noticed any negative changes to our gayborhood over the past six months.
*not a knock on Philly, it’s been a few years, places change, and I can’t claim to have encyclopedic knowledge
In reality, this probably wouldn’t go very well. The state would take this as a chance to strike back at “wokeness”(as they like to call it) and either create their own program or lean harder on an existing one like Vex. Moving champs is probably the best they can do.
I mean that’s the whole point. It’s a boycott. The intent is to create consequences for their actions by making life more difficult for the people living there.
This is definitely a take.
In my opinion we do not need to go to the extremes of axing TX teams. There are a lot of people in TX, a lot of very good people in TX that need to vote.
First does not have unlimited resources to move the championship overnight, or even over the course of a season or two.
I understand that. I just don’t think it makes life uncomfortable for the right people. It’s mostly students, mentors, and volunteers that it would make life difficult. That kind of makes it unlikely to create a shift in Texas state politics and could even have the opposite effect. Not to say nothing should be done, but a complete pull out is probably not it. I don’t know personally what the best route is though.
FIRST has plenty of resources to not extend a contract twice. These are active decisions to continue, not passive decisions to not resist.
The FRC community took a stand when the IFI stuff came out. FRC teams dropped them as a sponsor, a number of their talented employees left the company, Tony had to sell off bits of it and step down.
There were plenty of good people who were part of IFI who may have been hurt by this. However it was the right thing to do.
I concur. Taking away valuable programs from kids by trapping them in political crossfire is no good. Especially because it gives your political opponents huge amounts of ammo to say "look at this WOKE org harming our students’ education by taking away programs over a mere political issue" and it loses you favor from the affected students, teachers, schools, mentors, etc.
I dissent. FIRST willingly kept the championship in Houston when they could have looked for a new contract elsewhere. That’s on them. It may be too late for 2024, but there is not a single reason why FIRST shouldn’t be able to (and honestly, obligated to) look for a new location for 2025.
Absolutely it is on FIRST and it is a horrible situation overall. But they may have had to make a very difficult choice…
An event of this nature is planned years out, part of me really does wonder if the other homes of the championship (chiefly Detroit) were off the table as FIRST scrambles like mad behind the scenes to lock down another location (Chicago, Indianapolis, etc) and get everything in order.
First would be bombarded with fire and brimstone from the FRC community if they said “no champs for a season or two while we work out this logistics issue”. Especially when FRC is trying to recover team numbers post 2020/21.
To reiterate: it’s a messed up situation, but ultimately there may have been a very difficult call behind the scenes. If FIRST had hypothetically said “yeah, Houston renewal was a super easy decision” to the community then we have a different issue.
You’d be surprised. There’s a good amount of people on here who have argued that a lack of world or even national championship for other high school sports can justify not having a championship event. I do think there are other things that set FRC apart from other high school sports and necessitate a world championship event, but it definitely is an outlier in this regard.