UPDATE: According to a city press release, Guelph officials will be reviewing their swimming attire policy. Until the review is complete the requirement for girls to wear swimming tops will not be enforced.
Rules are rules and they’re meant to be followed. But what if the rules suck?
Cory McLean and Anika Warmington were at their local park in Guelph, Ont., and happened by the wading pool. It was hot, so their sons and daughter whipped off their shirts and went in. But soon after, a supervisor told their eight-year-old girl, Marlee, that she had to cover up.
According to the City of Guelph, those are simply the rules. Any females four and older must be wearing “appropriate bathing attire” — and that means a top and bottom. But boys can have at it and if they’re going to go topless, so be it.
McLean and Warmington were shocked and angered that their daughter was made to feel self-conscious, embarrassed and singled out. “She’s eight years old and she’s been sexualized,” McLean told CTV Kitchener. “By a stranger.”
The family stayed and abided by the rule, but they insist that all children should have to wear clothing on the bottom and the top, not just girls. Why should one sex have to cover up but not the other?
The City of Guelph explains that the rule is there to provide a “safe, enjoyable recreation experience for all, including staff, patrons and visitors,” but clearly not everyone is having a wonderful time.
Because it’s completely legal in Ontario for women to go topless, this rule is all the more baffling. When Marlee is 16, can she go back to the pool top-free?
The city says they are planning to discuss the matter with the staff member involved, but at this point they don’t anticipate making any changes to the rule. The family has reached out to the mayor of Guelph for an opportunity to discuss their concerns.