Religious Tolerance or Gender Discrimination? Harvard Goes to Women-Only Hours at Gym

There is an interesting controversy brewing at Harvard University. The university has banned men from one of its gyms to create women-only hours – to accommodate Muslim women. While the effort is a commendable effort to accommodate a part of the Harvard community, it also constitutes a serious question of gender discrimination.

According to reports, six women asked the university to ban men so that Muslim women are more comfortable in exercising. The university responded by baning men from the Quadrangle Recreational Athletic Center during certain times.

When it comes to a common resource like a gym, the ban on students and faculty based on gender is a disturbing policy choice. Religious groups should be accommodated in allowing them to build their own exclusive spaces using organizational funds. Thus, if they wanted to raise money to create a small workout room of their own, the university could and should support the effort. However, curtailing equal access policies to common areas is a major rollback after years of fighting for color-blind, gender-blind universities.

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5 thoughts on “Religious Tolerance or Gender Discrimination? Harvard Goes to Women-Only Hours at Gym”

  1. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, is a great way to boost your energy. Aerobic exercise lets you maintain an increased heart rate by performing a series of moderate exercises for an extended period of time (15-20 minutes). Aerobic exercise can be as complex as a whole routine or as simple as swinging your arms at your sides – anything that gets your heart rate up and keeps it there for at least 20 minutes.

  2. Freckles – why on Earth would school officials open themselves up to criticism of being, creative, socially responsible and forward thinking?

    That’s precisely what they would be doing if they took a few steps back, examined the situation and looked at it from your thoughtful perspective.

    Chances are, many other women, not following a social or religious tradition would also be very much in favor of your solution for many reasons including personal modesty. Your solution is what used to be thought of as ‘diplomatic’ before our Nation banned the practice.

  3. I have a friend that is an orthodox Jew and his mom will only go to a women’s gym. And his dad can’t go to any pool if there are women in bikinis there.

    Maybe they should make that gym women only on Tues and Thurs and men only on Mon & Weds. Just for a few hours.

  4. This seems like exactly the sort of case that Ruth Bader Ginsberg would have loved to litigate back before she hit the bench. Some women’s-libber attorney (or a gay rights proponent who’s gamed this out far further than I have at this point) might find a reason to jump on this to see if there’s a good angle to establish a favorable precedent for future cases. It sounds, on just a cursory reading, like there might be an opportunity to expand equal rights protections.

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