The Parks department is denying reports that it had any intention of canceling weekly women's-only swimming hours at the Metropolitan Pool on Bedford Avenue, a public pool that serves a large Hasidic community with strict modesty rules.
"No rule change has taken place," said Parks spokesman Sam Biederman in a statement. "Separate-gender swimming hours remain in effect at Metropolitan Pool."
But while it won't be altering pool hours this year, Parks confirmed that it is in talks with the NYC Commission on Human Rights about the legality of the practice. The CCHR recently received a tip about the pool's gender-specific swimming hours, which they say may be in violation of the NYC Human Rights Law prohibiting discrimination based on gender, race or creed.
"The NYC Commission on Human Rights is working with the Parks Department to review their pool policies," stated CCRH spokesman Seth Hoy.
According to Parks, the confusion stemmed from a typo on signage announcing summer pool hours. But Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind countered on Friday that a top Parks official confirmed the planned rule-change to his office earlier this week, only to backpedal in the face of community opposition.
"The women got in touch with us and they said they were told by the lifeguard that this program [would be] ending," he said. "Of course they were very distraught."
"The point is about being culturally sensitive," Hikind added, arguing that disbanding 'Women's Swim' would be akin to banning Hasidic women from the pool altogether. "These women don't have a television at home. A lot of other sources of entertainment we enjoy, they don't have. Today the more [skin] you show the more you get, but for these people the modesty is important."
Parks did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Hikind's allegations. "I'm going to be pursuing this," the Assemblyman added, suggesting he'll fight any efforts by the city to disband the practice in the future.