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I just read a few articles on-line about public swimming pools in Lille, France.  And it got me thinking…

(This photo is of my kids and their friends in a pool last year.  It has nothing to do with the story, except that it is a pool and I thought I should include a photo.)

Many years ago, a mayor set aside an hour a week for women only to use the public, indoor swimming pools in Lille, France.  In more recent years, they have added an hour for obese women and an hour for older women. Special hours were set aside to help fight obesity and increase general health in Lille.

Now the current mayor is running for First Secretary and is closely associated with a man who is running for president in France.  (I think he’s running for presidential candidate – my translation is a little fuzzy at best regarding the specific offices in the French government, but his position, either former or aspiring-to-be, is not relevant.  The fact that he is running for any office seems to be the reason that this issue has made headlines in France recently.)

His opponents are arguing that currently, most of the women who take advantage of the women-only hours, happen to be Muslim, therefore, it seems to be a separate swimming session for their religious group.

People in support of the women-only hours believe that some women, regardless of their religious affiliation, prefer to swim without men around the pool.  They also state that a woman who is obese  or older, and nearly naked, would be less likely to swim in the presence of men.  Therefore, without the women-only hours, these women would not take advantage of the health benefits of swimming offered by the public pool.

Opponents argue that if there are hours for women, should there also be special hours for disabled swimmers, other age groups such as infants or teens, other modest religious groups, and obese men?  They claim that equality is not being promoted if there are special hours for certain people.

Reading this article has me wondering…

  1. Do you think public swimming pools that are funded by taxpayers should offer separate sessions for anyone?  If so, for which groups?  Is there a public pool near you and do they offer any special group hours?
  2. Is this a religious issue now because many of the women that take advantage of the women-only hour at certain pools happen to be Muslim, although the women-only swim was not initiated for that purpose?
  3. Should men be entitled to single-sex pool time, too?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Hope you have a swimmingly good day!