Washtenaw County Swimwear Policy to Accommodate Religious Restrictions

January 10, 2006

Source: The Ann Arbor News


On January 10, 2006 The Ann Arbor News reported, "On one of the last days of school last June, Ann Arbor resident Jumanah Saadeh, then 13, changed into long gym pants, a head covering and a long-sleeved collared shirt and joined her classmates from Ann Arbor Open School at the Rolling Hills Water Park in Ypsilanti. The outfit was in accordance with Islam's modesty requirements, but violated health and safety regulations at the pool and lifeguards ordered her out of the water... After six months of planning, the county's Park and Recreation Commission is expected tonight to unanimously pass the first swimwear policy to accommodate individuals who cannot wear traditional swimsuits for religious reasons. Washtenaw County is slated to become the first county in Michigan and possibly the nation to implement such a policy... Crafting [this] policy... is the first of a three-pronged approach to the issue, said County Commissioner Conan Smith, D-Ann Arbor, who also sits on the Parks Commission. Park staff will also receive religious sensitivity training to learn about the different faiths practiced by patrons... the county will offer inexpensive long nylon pants and long-sleeved shirts that meet safety regulations and respect religious requirements."