Two gay dads in Virginia wanted to take their son swimming during the summer, so they signed up for a family membership at the Roanoke Athletic Club. The club initially granted the membership, then denied it upon realizing the dads were gay. This is only one of several disturbing recent actions allegedly taken by the club, which is owned by regional medical provider Carilion Clinic.
According to a petition at Change.org, gay dad Will Trinkle signed up for the family membership, since it was the only way children are allowed to use the pool. His application was accepted and listed him, his partner Juan Granados, and their child as members. But then:
Nine days later, a representative from the gym contacted Trinkle and told him that his application was processed by mistake. According to Trinkle, the representative said that the company was “‘tightening policies’ so no families like us would ever ‘get as far’ as we had.” The representative went on to claim that Roanoke Athletic Club is following Virginia state law, which does not recognize same sex marriage.
Mark Lynn Ferguson, who wrote the Change.org petition, asks, “If Carilion won’t give unmarried couples access to a pool, how will it treat them at a hospital?” Good question. Even though federal law now requires all hospitals receiving federal funds (i.e., almost all hospitals) to allow patients to designate their visitors, including same-sex partners, one really doesn’t want to have to try and educate hospital staff about this when one’s loved one is sick or injured.
Not only that, but the Roanoke Times (via David Badash at the The New Civil Rights Movement) reports that a Black maintenance worker at Carilion Clinic has filed a lawsuit against the clinic claiming a “racially hostile and offensive work environment” including the display of shackles and a noose in his workplace.
Elsewhere in bad news for LGBT parents (and parents-to-be), two gay dads in Arizona are claiming someone is targeting their family, including breaking into their home and scrawling epithets on their house and car. And over in Germany, a judge has ruled that a Catholic kindergarten may fire a woman for being a lesbian, but only after her maternity leave is used up.
It’s hard not to get angry and bummed out at this kind of news. A little constructively channeled anger is good for making change, I say. But I also think it’s important not to go around mad at the world. Our kids need our help to find the good in it as well.
I also want to encourage prospective LGBT parents not to let these sorts of incidents dissuade you from pursuing your dream of becoming parents. Change is coming. It may be slow—but I do believe the world today is a much better place for LGBT parents and our families than ever before. (And not just because of rainbow Oreos.) Go sign the Change.org petition asking the clinic to treat all families equally, and help it get a little better still.
[Update: Change.org announced this afternoon that the clinic has changed its policy to allow children with same-sex parents to swim. The Change.org petition has garnered over 133,000 signatures. David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement adds that according to the clinic's Facebook page, they are adding the category of "Household Membership" (because calling it a "Family Membership" apparently still goes too far). A "household" consists of "a primary member and up to one additional household member that permanently lives in the household, and any of their dependent children under the age of 22 who also reside in the household on a permanent basis."]