After more than 35 years of swimming at Port Townsend’s Mountain View Pool, Julie Jaman, 80, says she is “distressed” after being banned from the facility for calling out a biological man she says was watching semi-naked young girls in the women’s locker room.
Jaman told Friday’s Dori Monson show listeners that the incident started July 26 after she “heard a man’s voice” while she was naked and showering in the women’s locker room at the facility, which is operated by the Olympic Peninsula YMCA and the City of Port Townsend.
“I saw a man in a woman’s bathing suit watching maybe four or five little girls pulling down their suits in order to use the toilet,” Jaman recalled. “I asked if he had a penis and he said it was none of my business. I told that man to ‘get out right now.’ ”
After alerting a pool staff member to the situation, Jaman said she was “stunned” when the staffer told her that she was “being discriminatory,” “was banned from the pool forever,” and that they were calling the police.
“She didn’t ask me what the problem was, if I was okay, nothing about me,” Jaman said. “It’s as if she was just waiting to pounce on me. It was just stunning.”
After exiting the shower and dressing, Jaman continued, another pool staff member confronted her in the foyer. “She told me that I was being discriminatory and not following the YMCA principles and values. I told her I respect all human beings and I’m not following any ideology.”
Before this, Jaman said, she had no other warnings from pool staff and “has a great relationship with swimmers in the pool.”
Jaman told Dori that she later spoke with Olympic Peninsula YMCA CEO Wendy Bart.
“I told her there were no signs posted to give women warning,” Jaman said. “She said there were Pride posters posted all over and she assumed that was adequate to inform women what to expect.” According to Jaman, Bart also said, “we take pride and everyone is welcome.’
“That’s fine with me, except that they do not provide alternatives for women who choose not to be undressing in front of men,” Jaman continued. “Our pool is a very old pool. We just have two shower rooms, dressing rooms, one for men, one for women.”
Plans for a gender-neutral or family changing room have not occurred, she added.
Since the late July incident, the dispute has spilled over into local blogs and at least one heated city council meeting, Jaman said. She told Dori’s listeners that she is hurt by city leaders calling her a “bigot” and is “very distressed” about being banned from her regular exercise. The issue gathered increased attention after Jaman spent two days picketing and gathering petition signatures, seeking pool facility improvements.
Her goal now: to move the YMCA and the city to provide a pool locker room space “for women and children who do not want to mix it up for their own dignity and well-being.”