By Andrea Karshan
The City’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) today issued an exemption to current human rights statues to allow for continued gender segregation at two Brooklyn public swimming pools.
The two pools are the Metropolitan Pool, 261 Bedford Avenue, in Williamsburg, and The St. Johns Recreation Center Swimming Pool, 1251 Prospect Place, in Crown Heights.
The controversy started after KCP broke the story that Borough Park Assemblyman Dov Hikind received numerous complaints from Hasidic Jews living in Williamsburg that the local Metropolitan Pool would discontinue the separate swimming hours program. At the time, the pool allowed women to swim privately from 9:15 – 10:45 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays effective June 11.
Under the new ruling, women-only swim time will be decreased at the Metropolitan Pool to 2 hours on Wednesday (10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) and Sundays (2:45 to 4:45 pm). The women’s swim hours at Met Pool were decreased to 4 hours a week to minimize disruption to other patrons.
The St. Johns Swimming Pool will retain its 2-hour women-only swim time on Tuesdays (7:30 to 9:30 p.m.), and will eliminate men-only swim.
The HRC additionally will consider other exemptions on a case-by-case basis, following Parks Department guidelines. Some of those guidelines include two-hour sessions will generally be considered to be an appropriate duration and women-only swim hours must continue to be open to any and all members who identify as women.
Hikind called the HRC ruling a recognition of all the cultural differences that exist between people in New York.
“It is about all the women, Muslim, Jewish, women who want to have the privacy of swimming with just other women. Today is a victory for human rights in New York. I am proud to be a New Yorker today. We are going to work to extend the hours (for women-only swimming),” said Hikind.
Parks Department Spokesperson Sam Biederman said women-only swimming hours provide an important accommodation to New Yorkers who may feel more secure and comfortable in a single-sex environment.
“NYC Parks is appreciative that the NYC Commission on Human Rights recognizes the need to provide such safe and fair access at public facilities,” he said.
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