NYCLU, ACLU Sue Kiryas Yoel For Information On Gender-Segregated Park

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kiryas-yoel-playground-smallThe New York Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit challenging the village of Kiryas Yoel’s refusal to disclose public records about a gender-segregated park.

The park is on 283 acres of unincorporated land and opened in the Satmar enclave last year.

“Media photos show that women and girls are confined to areas of the park with red benches, slides and jungle gyms, while boys and men are confined to areas of the park with blue equipment. Separate walking paths re-enforce the gender-segregation. News reports indicate the park is supervised by the village’s religious leader, the Grand Rebbe, and its Committee on Modesty. Special funding was apparently provided by the village’s mayor,” the groups said in a statement.

“Public parks cannot segregate based on gender any more than they can on race or national origin,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “New Yorkers have every right to know if this is happening here and if tax dollars are supporting something so blatantly unlawful.”

In July, the NYCLU and ACLU filed a Freedom of Information request for records pertaining to the purchase, financing, operation and maintenance of the park to determine if the park is indeed segregated and if it was financed with public funds. That request was denied in August. NYCLU and ACLU attorneys appealed the denial, but the village failed to respond to that request. Under New York law, failure to respond within 10 days constitutes a denial of the appeal.

As part of the public records request, the NYCLU and ACLU submitted news articles in which Kiryas Yoel officials acknowledged both the existence of the park and the Committee on Modesty. But village leaders responded to the information request by denying the park exists.

“The Village has no gender-segregated public park,” wrote village attorney Donald Nichol. Village leaders also denied knowledge of any Committee on Modesty.

“It’s the law for communities to keep basic financial records like the ones we requested,” said NYCLU Attorney Brooke Menschel. “Kiryas Joel’s assertion that such records don’t exist is ludicrous.”

“This is the first report of a gender-segregated public park in the United States, so it’s important to learn how the park came to be,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “We cannot allow religion to be used as a shield for government-sponsored segregation.”

Joining Menschel and Mach on the case are Mariko Hirose, Beth Haroules and Christopher Dunn, all of the NYCLU.

{Gavriel Sitrit-Matzav.com Newscenter}

9 COMMENTS

  1. some people have nothing better to do with their time than to start fights where none existed before. has anyone complained? has anyone been denied entrance to the park? it wouldn’t bother me much if some local non-Jewish residents complained, but, self-hating jews are another problem altogether

  2. Segregation, according to Webster’s:

    “the separation or isolation of a race, class, or ethnic group by enforced or voluntary residence in a restricted area, by barriers to social intercourse, by separate educational facilities, or by other discriminatory means.”

    In other words, segregation means taking one group of people and separating it from another. In the south, blacks were segregated from the whites.

    Who’s being segregated here? The men from the women, or the women from the men? And what’s discriminatory about this?

    One thing is a sure bet: Had Kiryas Yoel been a placed called Dar-al-Yussuf, the NYCLU and ACLU would never dream of starting up.

  3. Who’s being segregated here? The men from the women, or the women from the men? And what’s discriminatory about this?

    One thing is a sure bet: Had Kiryas Yoel been a placed called Dar-al-Yussuf, the NYCLU and ACLU would never dream of starting up.

  4. In any case this will go nowhere. Obviously there are no official documents that say “this is a gender-segregated park,” even if de facto it is.

  5. There is nothing wrong with this park. No one is forcing anyone to do anything. I agree with the above comment that if this was a Muslim “neighborhood”, no one would make a peep.

  6. USA have gender-segregated “restrooms”. I hope someone files a frivolous lawsuit about it, perhaps by pointing out that the ladies’ line is invariably longer. Where are feminists! Aren’t the WOW incensed?

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