An aquatic center in Pella, Iowa recently confirmed to independent media that they allowed a female teenager to use the men’s facility and walk around without a shirt on due to the person’s professed gender identity.
According to the facility’s assistant manager, the policy allowing individuals to wear clothing consistent with their gender identity rather than biological sex was made in by the city council, the Iowa Standard reports, but after public outcry, local leadership admitted there was some ambiguity.
Last week, confirmed the incident involving the teen female happened, raising concerns not only about the men and boys who saw the young woman’s breasts but about the individual herself.
“When brought to the facility’s attention, they explained there was nothing they could do,” one concerned local told the outlet.
“That state law protects this biological female, allowing her to walk around indecently exposing herself to all the families enjoying the facility. The facility is afraid if they act and require her to cover herself, they will face legal backlash. I find it appalling that this would actually be state law,” they stated.
The concerned resident also expressed worry that the teen’s physical appearance was still so overtly feminine, it made her vulnerable to exploitation.
“If someone were to take a picture, it wouldn’t be viewed as some boy at the pool in his swim shorts,” they said. “It would be a topless photo of a biological female and it would be child pornography.”
Meanwhile, in schools, there have been similar incidents of fully intact females using facilities reserved for men and boys, the resident explained.
The Blaze noted that the Pella Aquatic Center’s rules are listed online, but do not specify any policy regarding dress and gender identity.
On Tuesday, the City of Pella released a statement on the concerns posed over gender identity and policy on clothing at the public facility.
“The City of Pella has received concerns related to the swimming attire of a patron who recently visited the Pella Aquatic Center,” they said in a statement, as reported by KNIA-FM. “The City has reviewed the matter with legal counsel and no further action will be taken. The City considers this matter concluded. The City of Pella operates its facilities consistent with state and federal law, which prohibits discrimination against any patron or participant on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability.”
That day, a packed city council meeting fielded questions and comments from locals.
“Mayor Don DeWard said in response to one citizen that the facility adheres to a 2007 state law outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and there is no specific City Code or policy in place as it relates to the swimming facility,” the radio station reported. “Many in attendance demanded immediate action from the city council, but Councilmembers Lynn Branderhorst and Bruce Schiebout asked for patience as they sort out what — if any, options exist to change guidelines at the Pella Aquatic Center.”
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