There are approximately 10.4 million residential and 309,000 public swimming pools nationwide, and now one of them is coming under fire for breaching the constitutional separation of church and state.
Ever since the 1990s, the Metropolitan City Pool in Brooklyn has maintained women-only pool hours four times a week. This was created to accommodate Hasidic Jewish females, who populate the area.
Hasidic Jewish beliefs demand modesty in dress along with strict separation of the sexes.
The Metropolitan City Pool will also allow women of other religions in the pool at the allotted times, but no men or boys are allowed access.
The pool only gained recent attention when someone complained about this women-only practice to the city’s Commission on Human Rights. The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation was told this practice is discriminatory against men and that it violates the federal law against separation of church and state.
As a result, the pool removed the women-only hours, and concerned female swimmers turned to their local politicians for help. From there, the change was swiftly undone.
Issac Abraham, Hasidic community leader expressed his feelings to FOX5 by saying,
“This is insane. Why don’t they go after and sue the bars and the clubs that give women free drink — entry into clubs for free and discriminate against men? Had the transgender people requested this even the ladies room would be removed.”
The city is working to mend this issue, a situation that could prove to be awkward for Mayor Bill de Blasio. De Blasio is a Democrat and relies on support from the growing Orthodox community for reelection.
The mayor is also a defender of transgender rights. When asked in a press conference whether anybody who identifies as female is allowed in the pool, de Blasio declined to answer directly.
Until the issue can be resolved, the Metropolitan City Pool will host female-only hours two hours a day, four days a week.