Gender discrimination alleged at Tukwila pool

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by MEG COYLE/KING 5 NEWS

KING5.com

Posted on November 25, 2013 at 8:06 PM

The water may appear calm at the Tukwila Pool, but there's an undercurrent of controversy about who's allowed to swim there and when.

Jamila Farole and her sisters have been organizing private swim time in this public pool for women only.

"In Islam, women need to have their privacy and preserve their modesty," said Farole. That means no men allowed.

"We would have the windows covered and also the doors so no outsiders could see in."

Farole and her family used to rent the pool for the privelege, until last June, when pool management made it a public program.

"The community has reall requested single gender swims," said Amy Kindell, Aquatics Program Specialist, who says meeting demand has not been a problem. The women's swim program has expanded to include lessons.

What is a problem, say critics, is that it removes access to what is a public pool.

"That is wrong, no matter how you state it no matter how it is, it's wrong," said Robert Neuffer.

Neuffer and his wife have filed a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission. He argues women-only swims or men-only, for that matter, single out swimmers based on gender and in this case, religion, too.

"I fel that any religion that  discriminates against men or women that I don't have to respect that," Neuffer said.

"That's not what we're doing. We're opening this up to all women," countered Farole.

The Metropolitan Parks District Board agreed with Farole and others, and will allow the program to continue.

Robert Neuffert is not giving up: "They say it's not discrimination but it is. By very definition of the program, it is discrimination."


 

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