Ayyyeee…What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves the closure of an All-Girls swimming class and the controversy it bought.
Students at an elite New York City public high school have faced an unusual requirement for decades: To graduate with full honors, they must complete a one-semester swim class or pass a swim test. Some of the girls who take the course have traditionally opted for an all-girls section. Many of them cite religious guidelines that dictate modesty in dress; others simply feel uncomfortable wearing a swimsuit around boys.
Administrators at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, eliminated the all-girls classes in favor of coed ones, the swimming requirement became the focus of a debate about how to balance religious accommodations with social integration. The school had stopped offering the all-girls classes last spring. But some Muslim students said they were unaware of the shift until a recent report in the student newspaper. Administrators said it had become unfeasible to fit the classes into schedules; the classes might have also run afoul of the Education Department’s gender inclusion guidelines.
The outcry, which was also reported by the New York Post, Education Department officials said this week that students who need accommodations would soon be able to receive full honors through classes on other life skills.
In New York City, where more than 58 people have drowned at public pools and beaches since 2008, many see a need for more swimming education. And at Stuyvesant, with an Olympic-size pool on campus, many say the course is integral to the student experience. Students must complete the swim requirement to receive what’s known as a “Stuyvesant diploma,” a seal on their regular diploma representing the completion of an extensive set of credits beyond what most schools require. Most students get the seal, and some feel pressured to, though it rarely carries weight in college admissions.
City schools must make “reasonable accommodations for students to be able to exercise their religious rights,” while balancing several factors, according to Education Department rules. Nathaniel Styer, a department spokesman, said that Stuyvesant would continue “to explore options” with families. The tensions at Stuyvesant mirrored debates that have erupted over the importance and constitutionality of single gender hours at pools.
Credit: New York Times, New York Post.