DURHAM, N.C. — qnotes reported on July 9 in a News Notes brief, “Protections top concern in merger” (goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging.com/11730/) and updated on Aug. 6, “YMCA alternate recommended” (goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging.com/11936/) that serious concerns were expressed that some of the YMCAs in the area would no longer be LGBT-family friendly and that alternatives had been recommended by community members.

Discussions are on the table between the Triangle YMCA and Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA to merger into one.

Since then, more discussion has been circulating on the subject among LGBT community members.

Cheri Patrick said, “I was at a gathering of lawyers last night and one of those attending took the floor to pitch their firm’s involvement in the Durham Y’s campaign to raise funds for summer camps, etc. After she spoke, I responded with a statement summarizing their history towards our community and mentioned that there was currently a discussion going on regarding that issue and that until they recognized all families, I would not give them my $. I asked her to please note in her final report to the Y that the funds she was able to collect were reduced due to their policies toward LGBT families, which she agreed to do.”

Chantelle Fisher-Borne has made plans to meet with the Durham director, Gordon Sinclair, to discuss the matter more thoroughly. Her reaction to their disparity between straight and LGBT families is based upon her work within faith communities and she has little tolerance of those who hide behind “Christian values” as a rationale for discrimination against gay/lelsbian families, she shared. She suggested that interested parties contact Sinclair at gordon.sinclair@ymcatriangle.org.

Lee Coggins reported that her family left the Y and are members of Hollow Rock, which has been “very welcoming,” she said. “We even had our daughter’s birthday party there and it was just normal. … For me to come back to the Y, they’d need to change their policies and have their staff offer a welcoming environment. You can feel the disdain and judgment just filling out the application. I’m not spending money there to be ‘tolerated.’ I did for a while because our daughter loved the indoor pool so much, but after a while, I just couldn’t stomach it. Also, now we love Hollow Rock and wouldn’t leave them.”

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton (pictured) totally opposes the possible merger. According to Raleigh’s The News & Observer, he stated that he felt it was a big mistake, even if the financial benefits were enticing. The article also reported that on Dec. 14 the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA voted “to form a committee to discuss how and if the two organizations could share resources.” Two models are being reviewed, one that consists of a management services agreement and the other as a full merger.

Other officials who agree with Chilton are Carrboro Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board member Mia Day Burroughs and Chapel Hill Council member Penny Rich.

The national YMCA’s website policy on diversity and inclusion states: “The Y is made up of people of all ages and from every walk of life working side by side to strengthen communities. Together we work to ensure everyone, regardless of gender, income, faith, sexual orientation or cultural background, has the opportunity to live life to its fullest. We share the values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility — everything we do stems from it.”

In Charlotte, YMCA PR Director Molly Thompson shared that there is no language that is in their membership application that would be discriminatory. She shared that they have a multitude of “families” among its members. She indicated that in these days that a family is more than a mother and father and children. A household family in their terminology can consist of two adults (who may or may not be related), a parent, grandparent or aunt and children or a host of other combinations. Families today, she said, come in all shapes and sizes. Charlotte has 19 branches and two residential camps and serve 271,000.

Greensboro’s Customer Service Representative Gordon Smith said that families consist of two adults, two adults and children or one adult and children and, as long as both adults live in the same household, they can be either two men, two women or a man and a woman. YMCA of Northwest North Carolina (which serves Winston-Salem and surrounding areas) has a similar policy. (For other YMCAs across the state, visit or call their facility to inquire about similar membership opportunities.) : :

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.

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