Connecticut Roller Rink Defends Policy on Headscarves After Muslim Woman Complains

Published November 24, 2010

| FoxNews.com

A roller skating rink in Connecticut is standing behind its decision to ask a Muslim woman to remove her headscarf because it could present a danger to skaters if it fell off.

Marisol Rodriguez-Colon was set to attend her 4-year-old niece’s birthday party at Ron-A-Roll but apparently didn’t make it very far past the check-in counter before she was stopped by a rink employee, who offered her two options: remove her headscarf or wear a helmet over it.

Rodriguez-Colon said she felt “mortified” when an employee at a rink asked her to wear a helmet on top of her religious headscarf, or hijab.

But Jennifer Conde, the operations manager at the Ron-A-Roll, said the rink’s main priority is the safety of its patrons.

“We are not insensitive to people’s religion,” she said. “We just focus on safety.”

In a statement to FoxNews.com, Ron-A-Roll said it has a policy that prohibits headwear to be worn in the building. Safety helmets are offered to those that are unable to remove headwear for any reason, because they are secured with a chin strap.

Each roller rink has its own rules. In many cases, these rules are tailored to fit their unique clientele.

The Roller Skating Association, through a lawyer, said that the “recommendation from the RSA is to not infringe on the use of recognized religious headgear unless the use of the headgear would expose other patrons to a risk that would not be otherwise present.”

Ron-A-Roll has a history of inflexibility to its rules, even when they turn out to be public relation nightmares.

Back in January, a bald woman suffering from cancer left the rink when employees insisted that she wear a helmet over her head scarf. Friends of the woman created a Facebook page calling for the boycott of the rink.

Frank Schiazza, the owner of CN Skate Palace in Pennsylvania, said he has a "no hat" rule at his rink but never forced a Muslim woman to remove her scarf.

“They usually don’t fly off,” he said.

Ron-A-Roll’s meticulous attention to details, in this case, is troubling to Mongi Dhaouadi, the executive director of the Connecticut office for the Council on American-Islamic Relations

Dhaouadi said the rink has all but turned a deaf ear when he asked to talk about the matter.

“These were two women who were not allowed in because they wore this headscarf,” he said. “They had absolutely no intention to skate.”

The women told Dhaouadi that few people at the rink were wearing a helmet at the time.

“I’m hoping it’s a misunderstanding,” he said.

Janine Gallo, who organized the party, said she signed a contract that assured the club that the rules would be followed by her guests. The two women, according to Gallo, were not on the roster and created an unnecessary scene.

“They were shouting that they were going to sue,” said Gallo.

The worker told Gallo that all she needed to do was put a helmet over the headscarf.

“The kids were having a great time, but they had to make it a racial thing,” Gallo told FoxNews.com. “It really shouldn’t be.”

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/11/24/connecticut-roller-rink-defends-policy-headscarves-muslim-customer-complains/