TROY, OH- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio sent a letter today to officials in Troy regarding the city’s aquatic center policy limiting who may apply for a discounted family pass. According to the center’s website, discounted passes are only available to families comprised of a mother and father who are who are legally married and have at least two children age 3-18 who reside in the same household.
ACLU of Ohio Staff Counsel Carrie Davis said, “Families come in all shapes and sizes. City officials are effectively telling residents that if they do not fit in the narrow confines of their definition, then they are not a family. Not only is this unfair, but it is incredibly hurtful to the many single parents, extended family members, and others who are excluded by this outdated policy.”
“Children often need activities during the summer months in order to enhance social skills, increase their physical fitness, and instill greater responsibility. Unfortunately, this discriminatory policy will only harm children in homes that fall outside Troy’s narrow definition and cannot afford full price passes,” added Davis.
In its letter, the ACLU pointed out that the policy could affect a whole spectrum of families ranging from households where a parent passes away, grandparents or siblings who are raising a family member’s children, foster parents, and same sex couples.
Discrimination based on marital status is illegal in Ohio in the context of employment and housing. Additionally, some cities like Cincinnati have added marital status to anti-discrimination laws governing access to public accommodations.
“City officials deciding who is or is not a family sends a terrible message to our community, particularly young people,” concluded Davis. “Families should not be treated as less than others simply because they are headed by single parents, extended family members, or by partners who are unable to get married in our state. Charging some people extra simply because they do not fit a narrow notion of family is unfair and unnecessary.”