Everyone In the Pool! (Not You, Guys)

June 17, 2009

Author: Omar Sacirbey

Source: Religion News Service


&amWhen Zahra Khan arrived at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from her native Ottawa, Canada, in 2005, she looked for a swimming pool where she wouldn’t have to worry about showing too much skin.

The only options were mixed-gender pools, which Khan felt would violate beliefs about modesty grounded in her Muslim faith.

After several starts and stops, she recruited the aid of a sympathetic chaplain, an open-minded athletic director and the campus Jewish group and last fall got her wish: one hour a week, at 9:30 p.m., of female-only swimming.

“I don p;rsquo;t think it’s appropriate for me to be wearing revealing clothing in a mixed environment,” said Khan, who graduated from MIT last year but still buys a pass to use the campus pool. “It’s not just a Muslim issue, it’s a women’s issue.”

With the arrival of summer, millions of Americans ditch their clothes, don their bathing-suits and head for beaches and pools to cool off. But for people like Khan whose religious beliefs discourage mixed-gender swimming, jumping in the pool isn’t quite so simple.