A group of children were told to stay out of the water at a public pool because of the clothes they were wearing.
Tahsiyn A. Ismaa’eel, the head of an Arabic enrichment program, has been bringing kids to the Foster Brown Public Pool in Delaware for four years. But this time, the kids were not allowed to go in the pool.
She said that the kids were all wearing shorts, shirts, and hijabs when the pool manager approached the group and told her there was a city policy against cotton clothing in public pools.
She was shocked at the blatant discrimination as she had never encountered this problem before.
“There’s nothing posted that says you can’t swim in cotton. At the same time, there are other kids with cotton on,” said Tahsiyn.
After she was told that the kids weren’t allowed to go in the pool, she said she would pass on the information to the children’s parents. But, this was not enough for the manager who called for a police officer to come over.
“She (later) had a police officer come over and ask what time we were leaving,” Tahsiyn explained. “She said there are people waiting to get in and waiting for you to leave,” she said of the police officer.
“We were approached first about the cotton, and then it became, ‘Oh, the pool is overcapacity so you need to leave.’ … I felt very unwanted,” she said.
Though there were other people who had stayed longer than the group at the pool, they were asked to leave first.
John Rago, Mayor Mike Purzycki’s deputy chief of staff for policy and communication, said in a statement to Delaware Online, “There are city rules and regulations designed to ensure the safety of those who use the pools. One of the rules requires that all swimmers wear proper swimming attire.”
Mayor Purzycki said in a statement that was released after the story was originally published, “I apologize to the children who were directed to leave a city pool because of the religious-required clothing they were wearing. We also referred to vaguely-worded pool policies to assess and then justify our poor judgment, and that was also wrong.”