A Virginia health club that rescinded a gay couple’s family membership announced on Thursday that it will now offer “household” memberships to unmarried couples with children under 22.
“Since opening our doors over three decades ago, we have always strived to provide the very best in service, programs, and staffing,” said Bud Grey, vice president of Carilion Clinic, which oversees the Roanoke and Botetourt Athletic Clubs, in a post to its Facebook page. “Our goal has been, and always will be to encourage and inspire health and wellness among all members of the communities we serve. In keeping with this goal, and in recognition of the many contemporary households that can benefit from our facilities through discounted membership fees, we are pleased to announce that we have expanded our Family Membership into a new Household Membership.”
The Roanoke Athletic Club did not immediately return the Blade’s request for comment, but Grey further outlined the new policy in his Facebook post.
“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,” he wrote. “Club dues will not change; dues for the Household Membership will be the same as the Family Membership it is replacing. There is no requirement to amend your membership.”
Will Trinkle said in a lawsuit that he filed in Roanoke Circuit Court last week that he successfully applied for a family membership on May 15 that would have allowed he and his partner Juan Granados’ 2-year-old son to use the pool. The Roanoke Athletic Club initially approved the application, but Trinkle maintains that it and Carilion Clinic violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act when they revoked it less than two weeks later.
Trinkle further claims that Roanoke Athletic Club employees told him and Granados that they had cancelled their membership because the state does not legally recognize them and their son as a family.
“We’re very happy that families prevailed in the end—all families,” Trinkle told the Blade late on Thursday. He said that while he and Granados were “sorry” that they had to file a lawsuit “to get here,” the couple applauded Carilion Clinic for changing their policy.
“It took a lot of courage to bring a lawsuit like this,” added the couple’s lawyer, John Fishwick. “This is how you make change.”
Carilion Clinic, which is the largest employer in Roanoke, operates seven hospitals and more than 150 other health care facilities in Southwest Virginia. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute is also located in Roanoke.
Mark Ferguson, a gay D.C. resident who grew up in Roanoke and blogs about Appalachian issues, launched a Change.org petition after Trinkle filed his lawsuit that urged the health club to offer family memberships to unmarried couples. He described Carilion Clinic’s decision to amend the club’s policy to the Blade as “a very exciting surprise.”
“I applaud the company for hearing from the more than 100,000 people who spoke up and said there’s no room for discrimination in this world,” said Ferguson.
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Anti-transgender heckler interrupts Danica Roem during debate
Trans lawmaker is running for the Va. state Senate
An anti-transgender heckler interrupted Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) on Sept. 28 during a debate with her Republican opponent for the state Senate.
The woman heckled Roem during the Prince William Committee of 100-organized debate between her and Bill Woolf that took place at Metz Middle School in Manassas.
“Thank you for reminding me why I won three elections in this district in Prince William County, which is the most diverse county in all of Virginia and the 10th most nationally where we welcome everyone because of who they are, not despite it, no matter what you look like, where you come from how you worship, if you do, or who you love because you should be able to thrive here because of who you are, never despite it,” said Roem.
Audience members applauded Roem after she responded to the heckler who was eventually removed from the auditorium.
Roem in 2017 defeated then-state Del. Bob Marshall, a vocal LGBTQ rights opponent who co-wrote Virginia’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman that voters approved 11 years earlier. Roem subsequently became the first openly transgender person seated in a state legislature in the U.S.
Roem in 2019 became the first out trans state legislator to win re-election. Roem in May 2022 announced she is running to represent the newly redistricted Senate District 30, which includes western Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.
Woolf during the Sept. 28 debate did not say whether he would support the repeal of the marriage amendment. Woolf also reiterated his support of a bill that would require school personnel to out trans students to their parents.
Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights
City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents
Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.
The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board potentially approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.
Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.
“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.
Pepco, Exelon announce $2.7 million in funding for four minority-owned businesses
‘It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table’
Pepco and Exelon announced a $2.7 million investment in four minority-owned businesses on Friday.
“Today’s been a long time coming,” said Pepco Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs Valencia McClure.
Pepco’s parent company, Exelon, launched the Racial Equity Capital Fund (RECF) in 2022 to expand capital access to diverse businesses. This latest $2.7 million investment is just a portion of RECF’s $36 million in funding.
At the announcement, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser spoke about the other ways Pepco and Exelon have “put their money where their mouth is” through their partnership with the D.C. Infrastructure Academy. She reported that all 22 of the residents that graduated from the program last week have a job offer from Pepco.
“We know that is not just a job, but a career,” she said to the crowd’s applause. “We know that working together, we can invest in D.C. residents, provide opportunity, and ensure that our D.C. businesses are a part of D.C.’s growing prosperity.”
The four minority businesses that received funding were Gemini Energy Solutions, Public Sector Solutions Group, CJR Development Partners, and Escalate.
“It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table,” said fund recipient Nicole Cober, CJR Development’s Principle Managing Partner.
Gemini Energy Solutions, which is Black owned, received $1 million, the most of the four companies. Its mission is to equitably scale energy efficiency to marginalized communities. For the founder and CEO Anthony Kinslow II, this investment means that he is able to get paid and advance the work of his organization.
“We are now able to accelerate the work in our software and technology development,” he said. “What we were going to do in two years, we are now going to do in six months.”
For Escalate, a workforce development platform focused on frontline worker retention, the funding means that it will be able to double the pay for frontline workers.
Public Sector Solutions Group CEO Darryl Wiggins emphasized that this investment was not just ‘charity’ work, but mission-driven work.
“The principle and the intent is greater than the money we receive,” he said. Public Sector Solutions is Black owned.
Public Sector Solutions Group received a $600,000 debt investment; CJR Development, a minority and woman-owned small business, received a $600,000 debt investment; and Escalate, a majority Black and woman-owned company, received a $500,000 equity investment.
Exelon launched the RECF in partnership with RockCreek, one of the world’s largest diverse-owned global investment firms, in 2022. The RECF expands capital access to diverse businesses so they can create more jobs, grow their companies and reinvest in their neighborhoods and communities, according to a statement from Exelon.
New RECF applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested businesses may apply online or contact RockCreek at [email protected] for more information.