Brooklyn, NY – Hours after being castigated for its decision to end separate swimming hours for women at a Williamsburg pool, the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation has reversed its decision and will allow the program to continue.
Gender segregated swimming has been offered at the Metropolitan Pool and Recreation Center on Bedford Avenue is Williamsburg for years, with women’s only hours offered from 9:15 AM to 10:45 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and between 2:45 PM to 4:45 PM on Sundays. Several days ago a group of Chasidic women at the pool were told by a lifeguard that the program was to be terminated on June 11th. Unhappy with the changes, some of the women reached out to Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who attempted to intervene on their behalf.
“We never got a clear answer why the program was coming to a close,” Hikind told VIN News. “They said it was some kind of human rights issue and that it was discriminatory. How is it that in New York, where we are so progressive and we try to respect everybody, that we could be so culturally insensitive?”
In a press release sent out this morning, Hikind called upon the Department of Parks and Recreation to reinstate the women’s swimming hours, noting that the pool was open to all women of any race or religion during those hours, not just members of the Chasidic community. Hikind also reported that those who swam at the Williamsburg pool during the women’s hours said that they never saw anyone else waiting to use the facility after they left.
“It was the middle of the day,” said Hikind. “The kids are in school, people are at work and it was just ridiculous. We are so busy taking care of everyone’s rights. Why wasn’t anyone consider of the rights of these women?”
Hikind said that he was notified by City Hall this evening that the women’s swimming program would be continuing and he thanked Mayor de Blasio for resolving the problem in a timely manner. Hikind also praised the women who contacted him and made him aware of the problem.
“It just goes to show you that instead of just accepting what appears to be a bad decision, by standing up and speaking out, they were able to get things done in a very real way,” said Hikind.