FFRF opposes gender discrimination at NYC public pool

1metropoolThe Freedom From Religion Foundation is objecting to gender discrimination at a New York public pool.

At the Metropolitan Pool, owned and operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, there are women-only hours on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The hours were temporarily eliminated but were brought back under pressure from N.Y. Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

Hikind claims that the Parks Department is being “culturally sensitive” in allowing women-only swimming sessions. But in actuality, it is catering to a tiny segment of the population whose religious tenets require separation of the genders for such activities: the Orthodox Jews. By being “culturally sensitive” to one group, the Parks Department is being culturally insensitive to everyone else, and is depriving men access to the pool at certain times. This sends a message to all non-Orthodox Jews that they are outsiders.

“New York may not allow particular religious views to affect public property rules, and the intent of the women-only hours at the Metropolitan Pool is clearly only to benefit a small religious community,” FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert writes to New York City Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell Silver. “Furthermore, the government cannot promote one religion over another or nonreligion over religion, since, as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, the First Amendment ‘requires the state to be neutral in its relations with groups of religious believers and nonbelievers.'”

FFRF is asking that the women-only hours at the Metropolitan Pool be discontinued to end an unconstitutional policy.

“In catering to the religious desires of a portion of the population, New York City is ignoring the U.S. Constitution,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “The city cannot bend and twist the law to accede to the political clout of one group.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with 24,000 nonreligious members all over the country, including almost 1,300 in the state of New York.


Freedom From Religion Foundation

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