Legality of proposed gender-separate beach days at Kingsborough questioned

Legality of proposed gender-separate beach days at Kingsborough questioned
Photo by Steve Solomonson

It’s kicking up a sand storm!

The public college where a Southern Brooklyn councilman wants to host gender-exclusive beach days this summer is looking into whether it can legally do so.

A spokesman for Kingsborough Community College said they began evaluating the issue after Councilman Chaim Deutsch’s (D–Manhattan Beach) idea drew mixed reviews.

“We’re taking a look to see whatever laws, issues need to be reached compliance wise,” said John Aaron, director of marketing and communication at Kingsborough.

The beach day for men and boys is planned for June 29, with one for women and girls slated for July 27, according to a flyer Deutsch posted to Facebook. The location for the days is a beach on the campus along John Berry Boulevard, according to an one of the councilman’s aides.

Deutsch’s district has significant populations of religious Jews and Muslims, and his reasoning is to give them a day where they can enjoy the beach without violating their religious beliefs, since some Jews and Muslims refrain from attending beaches with members of the opposite sex.

“No one should be disenfranchised cause they’re religiously observant,” he said. “We should practice what we preach, which is equity and acceptance.”

Almost immediately, some people began criticizing Deutsch’s posted flyer, accusing it of promoting segregation at the public institution.

“Segregation of any form is a bad thing! So said the Supreme Court! Especially on Government property!” commented one man on the public post.

Others, however, welcomed the proposal. One observant Jewish woman from Midwood told this paper that she will feel more comfortable in a females-only beach environment.

“I don’t appreciate comments about ‘Look, she is fully dressed and goes into water.’ The same is applicable to Muslim women,” said Mariana Fradman. “People who would like to have a separate place to go should have this opportunity.”

Deutsch has defended the gender-exclusive beach days plan, noting that they would only happen for two days in the summer, there are many other public beaches, and the events would be sponsored by private donations.

“It’s not an issue when doing something for two days allows people to enjoy the outdoors and recreational space the city has to offer,” he said. “This is a very small portion of the waterfront.”

Both gender-exclusive beach days are planned for Fridays, when there are no classes at Kingsborough Community College. Otherwise, the school allows locals to use the beach throughout the summer.

“People from the community have used the beach and requested beach passes,” said Aaron, who would not say whether the beach days are still on, only that the school wants to determine if the move would comply with existing laws.

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.