A muslim woman was turned away from a swimming pool due to her swim attire, according to The Denver Channel today. The Commerce City Recreation Center would not allow the woman to wear her regular street clothes in the pool because obviously you can’t wear regular clothes in a pool, it’s unsafe and unsanitary.
The woman, Sabah Ali, is now claiming religious discrimination, saying “Why do I have to be half naked to swim? To enjoy my time with my kids?” Ali said, in tears. “I want to have the same rights as every citizen.”
Of course, she did have the same rights as every other citizen, despite her protest to the contrary. For example, nobody else was allowed to wear full length clothing either. And there are other options available as well, such as actual full body swimming suits that are available and burkinis, which are made specifically for women who are muslim.
There are several reasons why you can not wear street clothes in the pool, and safety is the primary concern. First, clothing worn on the street may contain any number of germs and contaminants. It’s the reason most pools require you to shower before entering the pool. They don’t want a stew of germs and other junk you may have picked up prior to entering.
The second is that many types of regular clothing can have pieces, such as large threads or buttons, that can become loose and interfere with a pool’s filtration system. It isn’t clear from the account of Ali that this was a risk present in this particular case.
The third major reason is that many clothes that are not made specifically for swimming can easily become waterlogged and weigh a swimmer down, increasing the risk of drowning. As with the previous issue, it wasn’t immediately clear that this was at issue here.
While everybody should have the right to religious freedom and the ability to protect their modesty in the way they prefer, that right ends at the point where you are actively putting other people at risk. For example, we don’t allow christians to stone women on their fathers’ doorsteps anymore for not being a virgin.