Gay dads and toddler kicked out of pool for parents’ sexual orientationTop Highlights, Breaking News Thursday, July 5th, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC – More than 40,000 people have joined an explosive campaign on Change.org calling on Carilion Clinic, owners of the Roanoke Athletic Club in Virginia, to allow children with gay parents to swim in the pool.
Mark Lynn Ferguson, a Roanoke native, launched a campaign on Change.org when he saw a local news story about Will Trinkle and his partner Juan Granados. The couple tried to take their two-year-old son, Oliver Trinkle-Granados, swimming at the Roanoke Athletic Club, but Oliver was denied access to the pool because he has two dads.
“Folks in Roanoke are good-hearted and fair-minded, so I was just horrified when I heard how Carilion treated this family,” said Mark Lynn Ferguson, who launched the campaign on Change.org. “I kept thinking, ‘who on Earth would kick a two-year-old and two caring parents out of a pool?’ You just don’t see stuff like that in Roanoke.”
In a statement at a press conference in Roanoke, Trinkle told reporters: “Actually it was like someone punched us in the stomach. It’s from a place we couldn’t imagine that there would be this kind of discrimination and this kind of attack. We have come a long way but this shows we still have a long way to go.”
The Roanoke Athletic Club only allows children access to their pool if they have heterosexual parents. Trinkle and Granados, who were originally allowed to sign up for a family plan and paid their membership fee, were not aware there would be a problem until they showed up with their two-year-old son to go swimming.
The club defines family as “husband, wife and their children ages 21 and younger living at home.” Yet, Carilion Clinic, one of the region’s largest medical providers, has a company-wide patient non-discrimination policy that protects people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the state of Virginia does not have a legal definition for “family.”
“More than 15,000 petitions are started on Change.org every month, and Mark Lynn Ferguson’s campaign is definitely one of the fastest-growing this month,” said Joe Mirabella, Campaign Manager at Change.org. “It’s clear two-year-old Oliver’s story is resonating with people.”
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