Carilion Clinic: Family is family.Don't kick kids out of the pool because they have gay dads!
  • Petitioned Nancy Howell Agee

This petition was delivered to:

President and CEO, Carilion Clinic
Nancy Howell Agee
Public Affairs, Carilion Clinic
Eric Earnhart
Communications Director, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
Paula Byron
President and Founding Dean, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
Cynda Ann Johnson

Carilion Clinic: Family is family.Don't kick kids out of the pool because they have gay dads!

    1. Mark Lynn Ferguson
    2. Petition by

      Mark Lynn Ferguson

      Washington, DC

July 2012


After more than 100,000 people signed Roanoke native and Appalachian blogger Mark Lynn Ferguson’s petition on urging the Roanoke Athletic Club to change a club policy excluding same-sex couples and their families, the RAC announced that two-year-old Oliver and his two dads, Will Trinkle and Juan Granados, will no longer be banned from swimming at the club pool in Roanoke, Virginia.

The club (owned by local healthcare organization Carilion Clinic) came under fire recently after it first allowed, then denied Will, Juan, and their son’s application to join the club as a family--prompting a lawsuit and widespread public outcry. After Mark’s petition went viral on July 4th, Carilion Clinic quickly announced the policy change on their club’s Facebook page on July 5.

Upon hearing the news, Mark said: “Carilion Clinic did the absolute right thing here. I applaud them for listening to the thousands of people who signed my petition on, and for moving so quickly to respond to the outpouring of support for Will, Juan, and their son Oliver. Hopefully, more private clubs will follow the leadership of the Carilion Clinic and change their policies as well.”

Here’s the Carilion Clinic Facebook post announcing the policy change:

Who denies a 2-year-old access to a pool on a hot day?

Apparently, Carilion Clinic does. On May 15, Will Trinkle, a real estate agent in Roanoke, Virginia, applied for membership at the Roanoke Athletic Club, a gym that is owned by the regional medical provider Carilion Clinic. He and his partner Juan Granados wanted to take their 2-yeard-old son Oliver Trinkle-Granados to the gym's outdoor pool during the summer months.

Only children on family memberships are allowed to use the pool, so Trinkle signed up for a family plan. His application was accepted and processed, clearly listing him, his same sex partner, and their child as members.

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.

"We were really surprised. It's like someone punched us in the stomach," Trinkle says, "We couldn't imagine this kind of discrimination."

The fact that a couple isn't legally wed is hardly a defense for treating them as second class citizens. According to the U.S. Census Bureau there were more than 8 million unmarried couples living together in 2010. Some are opposite sex; some are same sex. All of them deserve to be recognized as families by local businesses.

This is especially true when that business is a healthcare provider that serves nearly 1 million people. In addition to the Roanoke Athletic Club, Carilion Clinic operates seven hospitals in Southwest Virginia, more than 150 other medical practice sites, and a new, high-profile medical school that it recently launched in partnership with Virginia Tech.

If Carilion won't give unmarried couples access to a pool, how will it treat them at a hospital?

This is a critical question for those who live in Southwest Virginia. With allies from across the country and around the world, we call on Carilion Clinic to...

- Treat all families--married and unmarried, same sex and opposite sex--with true impartiality and respect and 

- Extend the full benefits of family membership at the Roanoke Athletic Club to Trinkle's family and all other unmarried couples who live together.

Anything less undercuts the faith of its customers. It is time for Carilion to step up, admit this family into its pool, and demonstrate that the company can provide quality, impartial services to everyone in the region. 


We won! I'm pleased to announce that Carilion Clinic has amended criteria for family membership at its gyms. The policy is now inclusive of unmarried couples who live together, regardless of gender. You can read the company's statement, which was originally posted on its Facebook page here...

I applaud Carillion Clinic for moving so quickly and for responding to the outpouring of support for Will Trinkle, Juan Granados, and their two-year-old son Oliver Trinkle-Granados.

I also want to thank everyone who signed this petition. You hailed from all over-Roanoke to Rome-and you delivered a clear message that there is no room for this kind of discrimination in the world.

Congratulations to Will, Juan, Oliver, and all of you!


Recent signatures


    1. Reached 200,000 signatures
    2. Virginia does not restrict the definition of family for businesses

      Joe Mirabella
      Petition Organizer

      According to the Roanoke Times, "Virginia does not recognize civil unions between members of the same sex or same-sex marriage, but private institutions are not necessarily bound to follow the same definitions as those that are public."

    3. Video: Gay Couple Suing Roanoke Club for Discrimination

      Joe Mirabella
      Petition Organizer

      Will Trinkle and his partner Juan Granados spoke to local reporters about what happened to their family and how it felt when their two-year-old was denied access to the pool because his dads are gay.

      Will Trinkle said, "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."

      Click the link for video.

    4. Reached 40,000 signatures
    5. Young Boy Banned From Swimming Pool Because He Has Two Dads

      Joe Mirabella
      Petition Organizer

      The New Civil Rights movement covered Mark's petition and also dug up a story about a pending lawsuit by a former maintenance worker who was allegedly harassed with a racially charged display of shackles and a noose.

    6. Reached 25,000 signatures
    7. Petition Started To Support Same-Sex Couple Rejected By Roanoke

      Mark Lynn Ferguson
      Petition Organizer

      Towleroad's readers came out in the hundreds to support Will and Juan!

    8. 650 signatures in 48 hours!

      Mark Lynn Ferguson
      Petition Organizer

      Thanks to you all, it's been an amazing two days. People from all over Virginia and across the world have spoken out about Carilion's discriminatory policy, and our petition is starting to get attention. It was featured on the popular blog and on's gay rights Facebook page, which is followed by nearly 700,000 people.

      Over the weekend, there are 3 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP WILL AND JUAN:

      1) Share this petition on Facebook and Twitter, explaining why this cause is important to you.

      2) Email the petition to folks directly. More people sign because they received a personal email than any other reason.

      3) Send the link to your favorite blog or news outlet. I'm reaching out to media too. We want them to know that this is a hot story!

      Also, big storms tore through this part of the country last night, leaving millions without power. If you're in the area, please help your friends and neighbors. We all gotta' watch out for one another!

      Mark Lynn Ferguson

    9. Reached 500 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Debra Wilkes ALAMO, TX
      • over 1 year ago

      Why are they treating the kids for something they have no power over. I am one for all to live as they please, I am no ones Judge, & as long as no one trys to push their believes off on me I am good. It does not matter the reason, don't Judge at all on life; but I live my life & I do not punish kids for the parents beleifs no matter waht they are.

    • Janine Grzadzielewski LUMBERTON, NJ
      • about 2 years ago

      We ALL HAVE RIGHTS......white, black, indian, chinese, etc... And YES, GAY people ALSO. Stop DISCRIMINATING against gays.....EQUALITY!!!!

    • Benny Thomason BENTON, AR
      • about 2 years ago

      This was child abuse and bullying on the part of the people that kicked a child out of a pool.

      Really you kicked a child out because their dad is gay. This is gay bashing.

      Fire this idiot before they start abusing children

    • Lorraine Peters SAINT ALBANS, NY
      • about 2 years ago

      We all need to put attitudes aside- I don't necessarily agree with the homosexual lifestyle BUT I do understand that love is love, and who am I to tell anyone who they should love or how they should love: to each his own.

    • Kandisse Kis KEW GARDENS, NY
      • about 2 years ago

      I am signing this because I am an American & believe in the constitution that states that all men are created equal.


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