Reported by SARAH TAYLOR | June 30, 2021
An Iowa public pool complex in Pella reportedly permitted a biologically female teen to walk around the facility topless and enter the men’s and boys’ changing facilities because she was said to have told them that she identifies as male, the Iowa Standard recently reported. The incident was said to have taken place on June 16.
The Standard reported, “According to two people at the aquatic center, the incident did indeed happen and the aquatic center policy allows it to happen.”
An assistant manager at the facility told the outlet that the policy says that “anyone can wear the clothing necessary in line with their gender identity rather than biological sex.” The policy, according to the manager, was set by the city council.
A local resident told the outlet, “When brought to the facility’s attention, they explained there was nothing they could do. 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,” the resident added. “If someone were to take a picture, it wouldn’t be viewed as some boy at the pool in his swim shorts. It would be a topless photo of a biological female and it would be child pornography.”
The center’s general rules are available on the City of Pella’s website, but do not contain any information about gender identity whatsoever. A portion of the rules read, “The Pella Aquatic Center is a family-friendly facility. Inappropriate behavior, language, or attire are not permitted and will be grounds for refusing admission or removal from the facility without a refund.”
On Tuesday, KNIA-FM reported on a statement that the City of Pella issued in regard to the issue at the Pella Aquatic Center.
“The City of Pella has received concerns related to the swimming attire of a patron who recently visited the Pella Aquatic Center,” the statement read. “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.”
On Wednesday, the station reported that a special Tuesday meeting of the city council heard several comments from area residents.
“The meeting was at capacity in the building, with multiple individuals following along outside and more than 200 watching the online stream,” the station’s report noted, pointing out that “several residents and regular visitors” of the Pella Aquatic Center spoke out against the policies in place at the pool.
“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 report continued. “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.“