General

Important Back-to-School Reminders!

For many families across Virginia, this week marks the start of the 2019-2020 school year.  It’s exciting for parents to watch their kids begin a new grade level filled with all kinds of hopes and expectations.

In the midst of all the excitement, however, it’s critical that parents remain mindful of several issues that they and their children will encounter.  More each year it seems parents are bombarded with a host of policies that conflict with their family’s values or religious convictions, so it’s all the more important that you are aware of what these policies are in your school district.

Below are a few significant school policies that you should be aware of as your child enters this new school year.

1.      Family Life Education Opt-Out – At the start of each school year, parents have the opportunity and the legal right to review the school’s family life education (FLE) curriculum (i.e. “Sex Ed”) and decide if they want to “opt-out” their child from participating in this instruction.  FLE topics can be quite sensitive, and often include explicit sexual and graphic content. If you wish to opt your child out of FLE, make sure to get your school’s Opt-Out form, fill it out, sign it, and send it in. To find out what is being taught, look on the school district’s website or contact the school.

2.      Anti-bullying/Suicide content review Beginning this school year, parents now have the right to review any audio-visual materials containing graphic sexual or violent images used in any anti-bullying or suicide prevention lessons in public schools.  And just like with FLE, parents have the ability to exclude their child if they deem the materials too graphic.  Don’t forget to inquire about any anti-bullying/suicide content at your child’s school this year!

3.      Immunization requirements – Every school year, the list of public school immunization requirements seems to grow, and with that comes more chances for them to conflict with parental preferences.  Currently, a student attending a Virginia public school is required to have the immunizations listed on the Department of Health’s website here. However, not all vaccines are required, such as the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV). (For more information about this, please read the Focus on the Family statement here.) Additionally, the state Code provides for a religious exemption from ALL vaccines for students whose parents submit an affidavit to the school stating that the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with the student's religious tenets or practices. 

4.      Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policies – Are you aware of any “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) policies at your child’s school?  Does the possibility of a student of the opposite sex entering the bathroom or changing room with your child concern you?  Some school boards around Virginia have been implementing extreme nondiscrimination policies for students and staff by adding special (SOGI) protections.  In order to protect the safety and dignity or your child, it’s important that you are aware of any such SOGI policies that have been adopted by your local school board and how they impact your child.

These reminders are not meant to overwhelm you or diminish the excitement of the new school year, but rather to encourage you to remain active in your child’s school.  Our public schools should never be used as a laboratory for social engineering or become a place that is constantly challenging the rights of parents to direct the education or welfare of their children. They should be a safe place for students to enjoy the opportunity to learn and grow, develop long-lasting friendships, enjoy fun extra-curricular activities and prepare for their future, without all of the drama induced by radical ideologies.

We hope that all parents and children have a wonderful and successful 2019-2020 school year!   

How is this possible?

This week, Virginia politicians from both sides of the aisle and many in the media are trumpeting CNBC’s announcement that the Old Dominion is once again the “Best State for Business.” 

CNBC’s survey was based on criteria like, economy, infrastructure, quality of life, education, technology business friendliness, etc. 

But, according to many politicians – from former Governor Terry McAuliffe and current Governor Ralph Northam – to state Senators and Delegates of both political parties, and a host of special interests, quite frankly it should be impossible for Virginia to be the best state for business.

Why?

Well, according to these so-called “progressive” leaders, Virginia isn’t very “open and welcoming.”  You see, for the better part of the past decade, the media and political class have claimed that businesses and education leaders and technology gurus and everyone else it seems wouldn’t come to Virginia because the General Assembly hasn’t elevated “sexual orientation and gender identity” to protected classes.

Oh, and those anti-women “anti-abortion” laws are terrible for business, too.

Oops.

Of course, none of the rhetoric spouted by those claiming that Virginia’s economy suffers because the Commonwealth has chosen to minimally protect unborn children and religious liberty is true.  For the most part, low tax and regulation states are at or near the top of the “Best States for Business” list, while those with the most extreme pro-abortion and pro-LGBT laws tend to linger at or near the bottom.  Why? Because smart business leaders don’t base economic decisions on anything other than economic facts, not emotional hysteria (even Amazon decided to come to Virginia). 

This won’t stop the rhetoric, however, or the bills.  There’s little doubt that we’ll see Delegate Kathy Tran’s infamous abortion-at-any-point-through-birth bill again in 2020.  We’ll see the dozen or so bills elevating sexual behavior to special status in our laws, threatening religious liberty and making many religious small business owners left feeling rather, well, unwelcome. 

But the line will stay the same – if we don’t pass these bills the economy will suffer. 

Except it won’t.  Virginia’s economy will do just fine as long as taxes are relatively low and the regulatory environment is somewhat less crushing than neighboring states.  Businesses go where they can make money – which for most business owners is sort of the point. 

By the way, CNBC ranked New York state, which adopted its own version of Delegate Tran’s “welcome to everyone except babies” 27th. 

Our Team Has You Covered: Special Session, LGBTQ+ meetings, and more

News out of Richmond yesterday focused entirely on the General Assembly, which convened a rare Special Session on gun control at the call of the Governor in response to the deadly shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building on May 31. (Read our critique of the Governor's rhetoric in our blog entitled Why We Need More "Thoughts and Prayers") Realizing that this gathering was little more than a political exercise to boost the Governor’s party in November’s election, we used the opportunity to meet with as many legislators as possible to discuss other important pro-family issues.

The day was over as quickly as it started.  Leaders from both chambers sent the handful of bills introduced to be studied by the Virginia State Crime Commission, and moved to reconvene on November 18.

While some of our Policy team was at the Capitol for the Special Session, others were monitoring the Department of Health's presentation on "Virginia's LGBTQ+ Health Equity Symposium and Data Collection for LGBTQ Populations."

Yes, this is what our state government is busy doing! And we’re here to make sure that someone is watching, speaking, and acting on behalf of your values.

The Symposium overview, provided by the state's "Transgender Health Services Specialist", centered largely on recommendations for the state to change its medical processes, forms, and state employee training and policies to fully incorporate transgender ideology into state government. (See sample below.)

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It was clear from this meeting that our state government is seeking to eliminate what it believes are “social stigmas” because, according to them, that is the cause of higher levels of HIV, stress, anxiety and even clinical depression in those identifying as LGBTQ+. While its important to treat every person with the utmost dignity and respect and to help every person struggling with physical and mental health issues, it's dangerous of the Department of Health to overlook the reality of the negative health consequences directly associated with these lifestyles.

The Department of Health is also pursuing the same radical compelled speech that caused West Point high school teacher Peter Vlaming to get fired.  As the presenter of the study stated, "people need to use preferred pronouns, even if they're uncomfortable with it."  Here are some more troubling things we learned at the meeting:   

  • Planned Parenthood was touted for its services to LGBTQ+ patients

  • The Department of Health intends to implement questions involving gender identity, “sex assigned at birth”, and “preferred gender pronouns” into all its patient intake forms.

  • LGBTQ+ training needs to be done with all VDH staff, and possibly with all state employees.

  • The Governor is currently looking to hire a Director of Equity and Inclusion to implement all of the presenter's recommendations for implementing these policies throughout all state agencies.

Of course, any of these changes would infringe on many state employees’ deeply held religious and personal convictions. Commissioner Norman Oliver understands this and stated that to implement these recommendations would “require a cultural change within the state agencies" that he expected to take place in between one to two years.

There are so many important issues to stay on top of in our Commonwealth, and we are here working hard – often in several places at once – to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks as we seek to preserve and promote strong families. We appreciate your continued partnership and prayers.

It's Official! (Come See It For Yourself)

It's Official! (Come See It For Yourself)

t’s official. We’ve finally moved into our new building!

But it’s not just any building. A mid-nineteenth century four-story Greek Revival historic town house tucked among city sky scrapers in downtown Richmond, buttressed by a significant rear add-on with additional space, accented with a large and fully-enclosed courtyard and three walk-out balconies, all just a block and a half away from the state Capitol. And only by God’s unforeseen but abundantly clear leading, coupled with the faithful partnership of supporters like you, we are now the owners

Medicaid is Crowding-Out Free Clinics

Medicaid is Crowding-Out Free Clinics

The Family Foundation consistently warned that government expansion of Medicaid would increase in demand and cost.  But it is also clear now that government expansion of Medicaid is crowding-out charitable and nonprofit organizations currently providing the same service.  As more Medicaid eligible patients register, the less patients that free and charitable clinics will have to serve. And without a steady number of patients to serve, free medical clinics will ultimately experience a decline in state and private funding.   

WATCH: Eric Metaxes Inspires at 2017 Family Foundation Gala

As promised, I wanted you to get the video LINK to The Family Foundation’s 2017 Gala program. If you weren’t there, bestselling author and radio commentator Eric Metaxes kept the attendees of the packed convention room hanging on his every word, and I wanted to make sure you had the chance to see it for yourself. And if you were with us that evening, you’re probably interested in watching it again. Either way, please SHARE THIS with your friends and family.

You can watch it at your convenience HERE on our YouTube page. (Note: My speech begins at 29:48, and Eric’s speech begins at 1:03:02) Also check out our 3-minute promotional video first aired at the Gala, featuring the stories of three incredible Virginians.

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Metaxes released his latest book, Martin Luther, the same week as the Gala, so he gave us an inspiring message about the true story of one man who, by his bold courage and faith in God, changed the world forever. Eric Metaxes is the author of several other best-selling books, including Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, If You Can Keep It, and Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery just to name a few.

You will definitely be encouraged by his timely and insightful message to people of faith in an ever-darkening culture.

I also want you to have the chance to hear from me as well, as I spoke about the value and importance of ordinary people “stepping up” in often small but hugely impactful ways. I also share my vision and sense of renewed purpose for The Family Foundation in the challenging years ahead.

If you weren’t able to join us, you will definitely want to watch it now. I hope you will be enlightened, encouraged, and inspired by what you see and hear.

Note to ACLU: Join Us!

It’s good when organizations that often find themselves on opposite sides can work together.  At The Family Foundation, we’ve sought opportunities to join coalitions of diverse groups on important issues that shouldn’t be partisan.  That’s why we’ve worked with groups like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and others on ending the shackling of pregnant prison inmates, and with similar coalitions on financial reparations for victims of eugenics, foster and kinship care issues and others.

So we were thrilled the other day when we saw that the ACLU agrees with The Family Foundation when it comes to following laws regarding the creation and removal of regulations.  You see, the federal government has to follow the federal Administrative Procedure Act and Virginia government has to follow the state Administrative Process Act.  These laws, as boring and cumbersome as they are, ensure that presidents and governors – or the entities tasked with regulations – cannot act unfettered.  It’s a rule of law thing.

Recently we learned that the ACLU is suing President Trump for his decision to undo a requirement that religious entities pay for their employees’ birth control under the ACA.  One of the arguments they are making is that the Trump administration violated the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because they allege the interim rules were released without complying with the APA’s notice and public comment requirements.

Coincidentally, that is exactly the argument being made by plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the McAuliffe administration, partially funded by The Family Foundation, after McAuliffe’s Board of Health failed to comply with the state’s APA on not just public comment requirements, but multiple other provisions as well, as it watered down health and safety standards for abortion centers.  You see, following the law kinda matters, or at least it should.

Yet, to this point, the ACLU of Virginia has been strangely silent on the McAuliffe administration’s blatant violation of the law, while the ACLU national headquarters has already filed suit against Trump – though whether or not the Trump administration actually did violate APA is a matter of great question. 

I’ll go on record now to say if President Trump violated the federal APA, his policy decision should be reversed and put through the proper legal channels.  You see, it shouldn’t matter who the executive is or if you agree or disagree with the ultimate policy in question.  The law should be followed to get to the desired end.  Given the ACLU’s history of, well, let’s just say less than accurate legal arguments, I’m not super confident that their case against the President has merit, but time will tell.

I can tell you that there is no question the McAuliffe administration violated the law, numerous times.  So, it would seem, if the rule of law matters to the ACLU as much as they claim, they should be joining our lawsuit any day now.

We’ll keep you posted. 

Here's What You Missed!

On Saturday we launched a brand new grassroots initiative with the unveiling of our Regional Engagement Teams!  Our goal is to have a Regional Engagement Team, or RET, in all of the major regions throughout Virginia, and we need your help.  If you signed up for a position on Saturday, we cannot thank you enough for volunteering your time and effort to fight for our principles. If you did not get the chance to join a RET, don’t worry! All the information about our RETs and the various positions available can be found online at www.familyfoundation.org/grassroots/

Thank you so much to everyone involved with Saturday’s Grassroots Activism Project!  We had such a great turnout, and we loved seeing each and every one of you.  For those of you who were unable to attend, we missed you, but there is still time to get involved! 

Not only did we launch our new Regional Engagement Teams but we also spread the news about our weekly Team Timothy prayer meetings. This is an open opportunity to join us at our office in Richmond every Tuesday for intercessory prayer!  We hope to see you or have you join in via conference call. Please email us here for more information!

Everyone has something to contribute to the cause of defending the family in Virginia, and we hope you find your place with us.

Now is the time for engagement, and this is your chance.  It is so encouraging to witness everyone’s passion for our principles, and we cannot wait to see the amazing things all of you are going to do within your communities.

 

McAuliffe's Economy

This week our salesman-in-chief Governor Terry McAuliffe touted that Virginia was once again named a Top 10 state for business by Site Selection magazine, coming in at number six.  This is apparently a good thing, even prestigious.  Given that Virginia had been dropping like a rock in nearly every similar business ranking since he took office, it’s not surprising the Governor’s press office tried to make a big deal out of this one.

In his press release, the Governor said, “We are working every day to build a new Virginia economy that works for everyone, and moving back into the top 10 in Site Selection’s prestigious Prosperity Cup ranking is evidence that those efforts are paying off.”

Pretty boiler plate stuff.

What was interesting, however, was what wasn’t mentioned in the Governor’s press release, given that in nearly every speech he’s made he’s been sure to mention how terrible things are in our neighbor state to the south, North Carolina, because its legislature dared attempt to protect the privacy of women and children in public restrooms.  He’s demeaned and demonized the Tar Heel state, and ridiculed efforts to protect women and children here in Virginia.  He’s attacked efforts to defend religious liberty while he’s also made sure his efforts to increase the number of abortions in Virginia has been front and center in his messaging about making Virginia more “open” for the kinds of businesses that care about such things.   Yet in this press release, not a peep.

Odd.

At least until you look at the actual Site Selection rankings and low and behold what state do you find at the top of the list?  Well, it ain’t Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia.

You guessed it, the top state in the nation for business according to Site Selection would be North Carolina.

Amazingly, despite the media-driven, leftist hysteria generated by the now famous HB 2, businesses are still moving to North Carolina, apparently at a higher rate than the Old Dominion.   Perhaps public policies like low tax rates actually do matter to intelligent business owners despite state Senator Dick Saslaw’s remarkable claim made during session that he didn’t know of a single business that ever made a decision about where to locate based on the tax rate.

Umm, okay. 

Anyway, if we’ve learned anything from the HB 2 debacle it is this: the narrative wins out over reality every single time.  Reality tells us that North Carolina is doing just fine, better even than Virginia.  But my guess is that if you asked most lawmakers or your average citizen they’d be convinced otherwise. 

Send a Message to Warner and Kaine!

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine announced he plans to oppose confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat. Likewise, Virginia’s other Senator, Mark Warner, issued a statement earlier this week that he also plans to oppose Gorsuch’s confirmation.

Both cite Gorsuch’s refusal to claim support for abortion “rights” as their reason for opposing this highly qualified jurist – and notably – one for whom members of their party unanimously confirmed to join the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.

CLICK HERE to urge Senators Kaine and Warner to do the sensible thing, and confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court!

According to Kaine, “After meeting with Judge Gorsuch and reviewing his testimony and past decisions, I’ve observed that he has repeatedly taken an activist approach to cases involving a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her health.” Presumably, Sen. Kaine is referencing Gorsuch’s majority opinion in the Hobby Lobbycase (which was soon after affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court) where the courts held that Hobby Lobby had the right, consistent with its religious liberty, to provide health insurance to its employees that excluded coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.

Sen. Warner said, “Despite his impressive academic credentials, Judge Gorsuch’s record and evasive responses – even refusing to answer questions regarding his views of cases like Roe v. Wade and Citizens United – do not give me confidence that he possesses a judicial philosophy that will serve the American public well.” 

Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine portray themselves as "moderates," with the help of a friendly media.  But their voting records and rhetoric have become more and more out of touch as their party lurches to the extreme left.  Now, both are taking their cues from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU by opposing Gorsuch.

Both Senators need to hear from real Virginians like you that their vote against Gorsuch is a vote against Virginia.  It's a vote against the Constitution.  It's a vote against freedom.

Contact both Senators now and urge them to confirm Neil Gorsuch for the Court! 

Governor Sued!

Family Foundation Announces Impending Legal Action
- McAuliffe Administration Notified Today -

            RICHMOND–The Family Foundation of Virginia today announced that the administration of Governor Terry McAuliffe has been notified of impending legal action regarding violations of state law by the Department and Board of Health during the abortion center health and safety standards regulatory process. 

             “Over and over again during the nearly three-year process of amending the standards, the administration and Board violated the Administrative Process Act, the state law that provides the framework for regulatory action, the administrative code, and the Governor’s own Executive Order 17 regarding the regulatory review process,” said Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation.  “Regardless of one’s belief about the need for basic health and safety standards for abortion centers – or of any regulation for that matter – we all have to agree that a regulatory body cannot act outside the law when it wields extraordinary power over business, commerce and health care.  We have the Administrative Process Act for that reason, to provide legal boundaries and process for unelected regulatory bodies, to provide transparency and public input throughout the regulatory process, and to be able to hold these agencies accountable when they go beyond the scope of their authority.”

            Details of the administrative appeal were not released, but will be made available when the action is filed in Henrico Circuit Court within the next thirty days.  The Family Foundation is paying the legal fees for one appellant in the appeal, Itzel Melendez, from Richmond.  At a Richmond press conference today, Mrs. Melendez said, “In the past, I had occasion to visit an abortion center for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.  I am participating in this case because I am concerned that without basic health and safety standards, abortion centers will operate in a way that could put my health at risk if I ever decided in the future that I needed their services.  The standards that were in place were there to protect women like me from harm.  Without them, I am no longer confident that my health would be protected.”

            Cobb did reference one of the examples of where the pro-family organization believes the administration broke the law.  She stated, “The agency violated the Administrative Process Act by amending entirely separate and unrelated regulatory sections that had not been included in the regulations’ “Proposed” phase.  Several regulatory sections amended by the Board were not included in the “Proposed Regulation Agency Background Document” posted in townhall.gov, and these regulatory sections dealt with matters the public did not have an opportunity to comment on in accordance with the requirements of the law.

            “In addition, several regulatory sections the Board amended were not even in the agency’s “Final Regulation Agency Background Document” posted in townhall.gov, let alone its “Proposed Regulation Agency Background Document”.  The Code of Virginia requires that the notice requirement contain “(i) a statement of the date, time and place of the hearing at which the regulation is to be considered; (ii) a brief statement as to the regulation under consideration; [and] (iii) reference to the legal authority of the agency to act; ….” Yet, that never occurred for all of the regulatory topics for the sections that were not included in the agency’s “Proposed” regulations.  This is an important matter of transparency – providing to the public a clear list what areas of regulation are intended to be reviewed and amended.  The public and the entities being regulated should know from the beginning what areas of regulation the agency intends to change.  By avoiding disclosing all the areas the Department and Board intended to amend they violated both the letter and spirit of the law.  

            “In this case, the Department and Board initially indicated they would review and amend only six areas of the regulations, and instead ended up changing more than 20.  The public had no ability to weigh in on these changes until after the Board had already voted.”

             Cobb said, “There is a specific, detailed, and yes sometimes cumbersome regulatory process that, whether we like it or not, is the law of Virginia.  Without a framework, and without criteria and accountability for regulatory agencies, one can only imagine the damage that could be done in any arena by regulatory bodies.”

            “The Family Foundation fully supports the actions taken by these appellants,” added Cobb.  “It is unfortunate that the McAuliffe administration has in its ideological zeal consistently ignored or violated state law throughout this process, but it must be held accountable for those actions.  The regulatory process has rules that must be followed.  Again, this appeal is about that legal process and this administration’s ignorance of or disdain for that process.”

            Appellants in the case who appeared at today’s press conference were Virginia Board of Health members Megan Getter and Henry Kuhlman, and Itzel Melendez of Richmond.  The attorney representing Mrs. Melendez is Dan Carrell of Carrell, Blanton Ferris and Associates, Richmond.

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Our 2016 Summer Interns

The Family Foundation’s summer internship program has grown over the years and attracts some incredibly talented college students.  This year, our 2016 intern class is bright, fun-loving, creative, driven, and faithful.  With dozens of students applying for a limited number of spots, the caliber of interns continues to improve.  This summer, our interns are learning about each area of the organization, from policy research to social media outreach to grassroots activism and community organizing.

One aspect of our summer internship program that continues to evolve is in Biblical worldview training and discussion.  Each Friday, our interns spend several hours hearing from various experts on different issues and participate in in-depth discussions of these topics.  Our goal is to continue to expand this program in future years, and I look forward to announcing more about these plans in the coming months!

I hope you’ll enjoy the brief bios below and be sure to click on their names to read more about each of them:

Abbey Jessee (Development Intern; Radford University)
Abbey returns to us after interning last summer.  This is her second summer interning and she is very excited to be back again.  She attended Radford University and graduated in May with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Sports Administration.  A fun fact about Abbey is that she has broken her arms 5 times and her foot once.  Although it has been a little over a year since she’s been clumsy and broken anything and her family is hoping that the streak continues! 

Grace Saunders (Social Media Intern; University of South Carolina)
Grace is the Social Media Intern at TFF this summer. She will be a junior next year at the University of South Carolina, Go Cocks!  She is studying Library and Information Science with the hopes of minoring in Political Science, as her dream job is to be a political analyst. Her favorite sport is tennis and she considers herself to be the next Serena Williams.  Peanut Butter and Chocolate are her two top favorite foods, so the way to her heart is Reece’s and Cookout Milkshakes.  She obviously got the internship start date wrong because she didn’t show up until a month through the internship.  She is well traveled and considers herself an expert in traveling abroad.   Grace probably knows more than you so she considers humility her best quality

Richard Wiley (Policy Intern; Liberty University)
Born in Jacksonville, Florida and presently living in Goochland, Virginia, Richard was drawn to The Family Foundation because of his interest in the interaction of church and state in local politics, particularly those in the Old Dominion. He was homeschooled for much of his primary education and studied with Liberty’s dual enrollment program to complete high school with an associate’s degree. Richard graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pre-law from Liberty this spring after spending time on the University’s policy debate team, moot court team, and SGA legal team.

Evan Withrow (Grassroots Intern; Christopher Newport University
Evan is an excellent candidate for the new British Prime Minister. After Britain voted to leave the EU last month, Prime Minister David Cameron decided he no longer wanted to steer Britain to its uncertain future and announced his resignation. The nation will be left looking for somebody come October and much to our excitement as the first American non-profit organization to endorse an all-American candidate for Prime Minister, Evan has agreed to act in this capacity should he be chosen, so long as he gets to keep his desk and his American accent. His experience includes, but is not limited to, diligent and faithful service to his country in his softball league for several years, two years of college education at Christopher Newport University studying communications (probably the undercover kind), and YouTube. We can’t guarantee that he’ll be selected by the present monarch due to a less than advantageous situation with the unionist party, but if he succeeds at gaining the position, he’ll leverage technical jargon against malefactors better than Humphrey Appleby ever did. 

Cameron Dominy (Elections and Grassroots Intern; Charleston Southern University)
Cameron is very much a Yankee…yet he wears Chubbies and goes to school at Charleston Southern University.  Cameron is a Former Division One Javelin Thrower, but his competitive spirit carries over which is why he is currently serving as the President pro tempore for the CSU Student Government and is also the chairman of the CSU College Republicans.  The South Carolina Student Legislature is lucky to have him as their chief of staff. 

Introducing Abbey Jessee

Abbey Jessee is the Development Intern at TFF this year.  This is her second summer interning and she is very excited to be back again.  She attended Radford University and graduated in May with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Sports Administration.  One of Abbey’s favorite times in college was when she had the opportunity to intern with the Radford Athletic Department as a Sports Marketing Intern.  During this internship she worked with multiple sports teams doing advertising and promoting sporting events on and off campus as well promotions and student involvement during game time. 

After, she graduated college she decided that while still looking for a job it would be beneficial to have another internship under her belt in order to gain a little more experience.  Coming back to The Family Foundation she was excited to learn more about fundraising and all of the efforts that go into garnering donors.  After this internship she would like to get a job doing event planning for corporations.

Her favorite thing to do is go to Virginia Tech football games with her family.  This has been a tradition that has been going on even before she was born and she attended her first football game at 4 months old and has only missed a couple home games.  Her favorite game that she has been to so far was when Virginia Tech played Ohio State at OSU and Virginia Tech won the game!  The atmosphere was by far the craziest she has ever seen it and OSU was one of her favorite stadiums that she has been to.  Her favorite movie is Sweet Home Alabama, but Frozen does come in as a close second.  A fun fact about Abbey is that she has broken her arms 5 times and her foot once.  Although it has been a little over a year since she’s been clumsy and broken anything and her family is hoping that the streak continues! 

Abbey is excited to see what God’s plan is for her after the internship! 

Introducing Cameron Dominy

This is Cameron Dominy’s second consecutive summer interning  for The  Family Foundation. He returns as a Grassroots intern this time around, after spending the previous year working in Elections. 

A Connecticut native, Cameron’s family currently resides in the Blacksburg area. For the majority of the year, he studies Political Science and History at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina. At his college, Cameron leads the on Campus College Republicans Chapter, and serves as the President pro tempore of the Student Government Association.  Last year, he was elected to be  the Governor of the South Carolina Student Legislature, a student run and perpetuated organization with thirteen college delegations and over one hundred representatives. He will continue to serve in that capacity until the upcoming spring semester. Following graduation from college, Cameron plans on pursuing a graduate degree in Political Science at either George Mason or William and Mary. 

Cameron enjoys reading, good tea, and all things Boston sports. He finds collections of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories especially stimulating, and he frequently writes about current political issues. Cameron has a particular love for sarcasm, which much of his writing tends to reflect. He is also a former NCAA Division One athlete, as the threw the Javelin for Charleston Southern his Freshman year of college. 

Cameron hopes that the experience and worldview training of two summers with the Virginia Family Foundation will allow him to be an effective voice for Christ across the American political system.
 

Introducing Grace Saunders

Grace Saunders is a wonderful addition to the intern team at The Family Foundation. Her peers and coworkers would describe her as funny, smart, caring, and probably overly optimistic. This summer, Grace is the social media intern. Some of her tasks include creating videos of intern discussions, monitoring different social media aspects of The Family Foundation, and doing other odd jobs around the office. She loves what she does and is always excited to take on a new project at work.

In her free time, Grace enjoys playing tennis, running, going to the beach, doing anything on the water, and spending time outside in general. She also is very interested in music and the arts, and loves going to various concerts or art exhibits with friends and family. Grace absolutely loves travelling and her favorite city that she has visited is Vienna, Austria. But she does argue that Columbia, South Carolina comes in a close second. This opinion is probably influenced by the fact that she goes to the University of South Carolina in Columbia and is an extremely proud Gamecock. She loves attending all sporting events at her school but is especially fond of the football games, and takes the wins and losses very personally. She is majoring in Library and Information Sciences and is pursuing a minor in Political Science.

Grace loves being in an environment where the entirety of the work is faith based and hopes to pursue a career that ties religion and politics together. Her time spent at The Family Foundation has only strengthened her desire to continue in this walk. 

Introducing Evan Winthrow

Evan Withrow is one of the grassroots interns for the 2016 summer with The Family Foundation. He was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia and is currently pursuing a degree in Communication from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. Aside from loving all things food, Evan loves playing sports. One of the more memorable accomplishments in his intramural sport career was winning the coveted intramural champion t-shirt in Men’s flag football.  He considers himself a professional intramural athlete and has taken his skills to Grove Avenue Baptist as an addition to their men’s softball team, where he is their best player. 

While at Christopher Newport, he is a YoungLife leader at a local middle school.  He is a great role model and a couple weeks ago he was able to go to summer camp with his YoungLife group and lead them in an engaging week filled with Bible studies and fun.  One of his favorite things to do with his family on the weekend is go to their lake house where he gets to hang out on the boat and lounge around watching Harry Potter marathons.  Evan is your number one guy to go to if you are ever looking to make a little extra cash.  He knows of survey sites and online deals for any need you might have.  His most recent purchase includes ifrogz, a keychain speaker that you can take anywhere and only have to charge it overnight. 

Here at TFF we are happy to have Evan this summer as he adds a laugh to our day and always knows how to put a smile on everyone’s face.  Evan is looking forward to his senior year at CNU where he can continue his walk of faith spreading God’s love to the middle school Younglife program. 

Introducing Richard Wiley

Richard Wiley is The Family Foundation’s 2016 summer policy intern. When he’s not keeping a close eye on the turbulent affairs of present day politics, you will find Richard drilling on Morse-code and German verbs, or welding in the shop.

Born in Jacksonville, Florida and presently living in Goochland, Virginia, Richard was drawn to The Family Foundation because of his interest in the interaction of church and state in local politics, particularly those in the Old Dominion. He was homeschooled for much of his primary education and studied with Liberty’s dual enrollment program to complete high school with an associate’s degree. Richard graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pre-law from Liberty this spring after spending time on the University’s policy debate team, moot court team, and SGA legal team. As a fan of British mystery novels and contextualized interpretations of the Constitution, Richard plans to take the art of deduction with him to Liberty University’s law school this fall to pursue a career in constitutional law.

One of the most significant memories Richard recalls from college is when he traveled to Regent University to argue the first amendment on the moot court team. He often plays the keyboard for his church’s worship team and loves to indulge from time to time in jazz sessions with friends and family.  He likes to go out in his backyard and play airsoft and paintball with his siblings.  Also, he is a pyromaniac and is obsessed with fireworks so it is safe to say that the Fourth of July is his favorite holiday.  If you asked all of the other interns what their favorite thing about Richard was they would probably say that he brings a deck of cards every day and taught us all how to play Hearts, which is an amazing game everyone should learn how to play it!

Everyone enjoys having Richard at TFF this summer because he brings good input to the group and knows a lot of law that pertains to our conversations.  He is excited to start law school at Liberty in the fall and return to being a Flame again!

Heels Top Hoos, Again

Rankings, from college basketball to “the best beaches” to which state is the “best for business,” are always a bit arbitrary and subjective. But that’s what makes them so much fun to debate.

This week, CNBC announced its “Top States for Business,” a ranking which politicos are often touting.  That is, if their state finishes well.  At one time, Virginia did well, ranking as high as #1 as recently as 2011.  This year, however, Virginia finds itself at #13, continuing a steady decline.

Lots of blame will be applied – much of it on Governor Terry McAuliffe by Republicans, and on “sequestration” by Democrats.  We’ll leave that analysis to others.

What is fascinating, in light of the recent manufactured brouhaha over that state’s law regarding bathroom use, is North Carolina’s ranking – 5th.  Or, for you mathematically challenged, 8 spots ahead of Virginia.   North Carolina actually jumped 4 spots this year, up from 9th. 

Now, CNBC is quick to argue that North Carolina would have finished even higher had it not been for their “controversial law,” which opponents had claimed was costing the state “millions.”  Could be the case, at least temporarily, but long term impact is suspicious at best.  CNBC blamed the law on North Carolina’s low “Quality of Life” ranking, coming in at 30th.

Now this is where the fun begins.  You see, CNBC ranks Minnesota, for example, #2 in its quality of life ranking.  No offense to the Gopher state, but having heard from friends there, it appears that the winters can be just a bit nippy – as in downright miserable.  But CNBC doesn’t include climate in its quality of life methodology.  Instead, it analyzes as follows:

The best places to do business are also the best places to live. We score the states on livability, including several factors, such as the crime rate; inclusiveness, such as antidiscrimination protections; the quality of health care; the level of health insurance coverage and the overall health of the population. We evaluate local attractions, parks and recreation, as well as environmental quality.

“Inclusiveness” as CNBC defines it, of course, which apparently doesn’t “include” anyone who disagrees with their definition.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of quality of life, more often than not, brutal winters would be a factor.  For others, perhaps not.  You may weigh other factors, such as just how pitiful a state’s professional baseball and football teams might be, or the culinary diversity of a state, or how many mosquitoes exist per capita.  You see, quality of life is really, really hard to define for someone else. 

Regardless, the overall ranking indicates that Virginia has some catching up to do if it wants to compete with North Carolina in attracting business – seemingly about the only thing the feds and Supreme Court have left to the states, at least for now. 

It gets worse for Virginia.  Both ESPN and Sports Illustrated have North Carolina ranked ahead of Virginia in their respective polls for next year’s college basketball season. 

Things just keep going from bad to worse for the Old Dominion.

New Front in War on Women: Having to Go to the Drug Store

Kathryn Blass,TFF College Intern

On Tuesday, the Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition unveiled their legislative agenda for the 2016 General Session. Complaining about a perceived lack of "access to birth control," NARAL announced an intention to see 12 month prescriptions for birth control, so that women are not forced to go to the pharmacy every 30-90 days and risk not getting their birth control, putting them in imminent danger of an unwanted pregnancy. Yes, apparently having to actually travel to the pharmacy is now hindering access to birth control; and to take this to the fullness of feminism, having to travel to a pharmacy is a war on women.

NARAL had a college student from VCU speak.  She complained how expensive birth control and abortions are, but my personal favorite point was that, because she’s in college, it is hard for her and her friends to keep up on their birth control. College students travel a lot making it difficult to get to the pharmacy, and heaven forbid you run out of birth control during exam week, because getting to the pharmacy would be quite hard.

Well, guess what, I’m a college student and take a couple of different prescription medications, and it’s not that hard to keep up on your medication. In fact, it’s called being an adult. While I don’t travel for university events, such as sports or performances, I have friends that do. They know the dates they will be traveling, so ensuring one has enough medication to last the trip is common sense. Every college kid has a brutal exam week, so why is it a burden for women to run to the pharmacy to pick up birth control, but not a burden for me to run to the pharmacy to pick up my asthma inhaler? In fact, I would argue that picking up a prescription should be a welcome study break. For example:

Walking from dorm/library to car: 15 minutes

Drive time to pharmacy: 5-15 minutes

Wait time at the pharmacy: 5 minutes

Drive back to campus: 5-15 minutes

Walk back to dorm/library: 15 minutes

That’s just over an hour. But the amount of things you can get done in that hour of running to the pharmacy is incredible. Call your parents while walking to the car. Eat a granola bar while driving. If your wait time at the pharmacy is going to be long, bring some flash cards with you. Call a sibling, while walking back to the dorm. The possibilities are endless. Granted the distance between campus and pharmacy varies based on college, but most colleges will have a pharmacy relatively close. And if one’s pharmacy is too far away from campus, then plan ahead. It’s the adult thing to do.

Before I started getting my prescriptions locally, I used to have my parents ship my them from our pharmacy in Michigan to campus here in Virginia, which required at least a week in advance planning, if I didn’t want to run out. So, ladies of the Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition, go ahead and advocate for a 12 month long prescription (having that for all medications would be nice luxury) but don’t claim that going to the pharmacy hinders access of college students to birth control. It’s called being an adult. I promise treating us as adults won’t hurt us.

Protecting Our Children!

Over the past year, some Virginia school boards in Virginia have adopted policies which effectively ensure that prisoners have more privacy rights than public school students in restrooms and locker rooms.  And the ACLU has been there to prop them up every step along the way. That is why we will be working with the General Assembly this year to pass common sense legislation which makes absolutely clear schools in Virginia should not jeopardize the security of our school children through the radical trend of “gender identity” affirming policies.  Legislation will ensure that every student’s privacy and dignity are protected when entering a school restroom by maintaining separate facilities for boys and girls, while at the same time encouraging reasonable accommodations for students struggling with gender identity issues whenever possible.

Several local school boards in Virginia have been confronted with school kids claiming to be transgender and demanding that they be allowed to use restrooms, locker rooms, showers, etc. of the sex with which they “identify,” instead of their biological sex.  One of the first counties to deal with this was Gloucester, where the school board adopted a reasonable policy that balanced the privacy rights of all students while accommodating the transgender student with an alternative restroom.

This compromise, however, wasn’t good enough for the ACLU, who immediately sued the Gloucester School Board.  In September, a federal judge here in Virginia dismissed the ACLU’s discrimination claim, arguing, “[n]ot only is bodily privacy a constitutional right, the need for privacy is even more pronounced in the state education system.  The students are almost all minors, and public school education is a protective environment.”

The case is already scheduled to be heard by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond at the end of January.

In the meantime, we are not powerless to confront these new and dangerous threats to the safety and stability of our children and school administrators.

Incredibly, in our culture today, the ACLU and secular elites want you to believe that allowing a middle school female to use a restroom without having a male use the same restroom simply because they “identify” as female is hateful and bigoted.

The vast majority of Virginians and local school boards recognize that we can teach our children to be compassionate and tolerant toward one another without forcing school aged children into vulnerable interactions with opposite sex students in restrooms and locker rooms.  We can and we must protect the privacy and dignity of our school aged children from the sex driven agenda of the ACLU and secular elites. We pledge to do just that.

The 2016 General Assembly session begins Wednesday, January 13.