Brooklyn polarized by gender-segregated beach days

June 11, 2018 By Clarissa Sosin Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A gorgeous view from the sand in Manhattan Beach. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan
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A Brooklyn City Council member’s announcement that he plans to hold gender segregated beach days this summer has sparked controversy and is being criticized as discriminatory, Haaretz reported.

Last week Councilmember Chaim M. Deutsch announced on his Facebook page that he will be hosting two gender-segregated beach days this summer at the Kingsborough Community College beach on Oriental Boulevard. To avoid running into issues of the separation of church and state, Deutsch said he is using private funds to reserve the beach for days that it would normally be closed to the public.

Some Facebook users lauded the announcement leaving notes such as “So cool!” and “This is amazing!!! Thank you!!!” Others criticized the announcement saying that it was discriminatory and unconstitutional.

One woman who goes by the name of A. Joi Brown on Facebook wrote that even though she benefits from the beach days, the event made her uneasy. “I feel this would be better represented by a religious organization and not a government entity,” she wrote in the comments.

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NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman weighed in on the issue in an interview with the New York Post and said, “What chutzpah. People don’t have the right to impose gender discrimination on a city beach simply because it’s mandated by their religion,” she said. “It is one thing for the city to provide reasonable accommodation for religious practice, and quite another to limit the public access of everybody else.”

Deutsch’s district includes Midwood, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Sheepshead Bay, all of which have large Muslim and Orthodox Jewish populations.

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