Local officials have condemned a Long Island podcaster for his stance on the transgender community. He also criticized the Manhasset Middle School’s all-gender restroom and the high school’s Gender Equity Forum.
Shawn Farash, the founder of Long Island Loud Majority, said, in a podcast posted on Friday morning, that he was present for the Manhasset Board of Education meeting last Thursday night, which lasted more than four hours. Farash, who is not a Manhasset resident, posted a picture during the podcast of the middle school’s all-gender restroom.
Farash said the image of the restroom sign, which includes the typical male and female depictions and a third that is a combination of both, was “filth” and said having an all-gender restroom is “going to get people hurt.”
“I am quite frankly done hearing about all of the alphabet being used to describe people,” he said. “There are men and there are women. Why on Earth, when there is a binary choice, do we take it upon ourselves to overcomplicate just about everything?”
Farash then posted a picture of a flyer for Manhasset High School’s third annual Gender Equity Forum, saying that children are going to wind up vulnerable and confused and that people are going to get in trouble.
“This is about taking reality and twisting it,” he said.
Farash said he does not have an issue with gay or bisexual individuals, but when it comes to transgender individuals, issues begin to arise.
“To me, you want to feel a certain way, you’re entitled to do it,” Farash said. “But if you’re going to be born a man and tell me that’s not what you are, you’re probably insane.”
Officials from the Manhasset school district sent an email to the community on Monday, criticizing Farash’s “disparaging” comments toward the transgender community.
“The District finds these remarks to be ill-informed and reprehensible,” officials said. “Our District is committed to ensuring that all children feel valued and accepted for who they are. We unequivocally support our LGBTQ students, employees, and their families.”
District officials also said, like every public school throughout the state, they are required to have a designated single-stall, gender-neutral bathroom.
Farash also criticized the Manhasset Board of Education for the length of the meeting and President Pat Aitken. Aitken, on several occasions, asked those present to be quiet until they were allowed to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said she was disappointed to see that children throughout the district are “subjected to hateful and derisive comments.”
“As a mother of two boys, I know firsthand how school board policy issues can often elicit strong feelings on a variety of subjects,” DeSena said. “But the tenor and subject matter of the conversation that has ensued is absolutely unacceptable.”
Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) also addressed the comments, calling for people to combat intolerance and said there is no place for it. Kaplan classified Farash’s comments as “hate speech” used as an effort to promote a “hateful agenda.”
“I won’t repeat any of his vile attacks against members of the transgender community, and specifically trans youth, but instead I will send a message to all TGNC and LGBTQ+ people in our community that you are seen, you are loved, and I will always have your back,” Kaplan said. “And when people come into our community to attack our values and our families, I will always stand up and speak out.”
Melanie D’Arrigo, a Democratic candidate from Port Washington running in the 3rd Congressional District, also condemned Farash’s stance on the transgender community.
“Folks are allowed to have opinions, but when they involve hateful attacks on children and amplify hate, it is long past time to re-evaluate your agenda,” D’Arrigo said in a statement. “Every child, every gender, every identity is equally valued and deserves to feel love and acceptance. There is no hierarchy over who deserves to be seen.”
Robert Zimmerman, another Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, said he was “disgusted and outraged” by the comments made by Farash.
“It’s our collective responsibility to ensure this in our community, & to drive out the hate and bigotry that threaten our children,” Zimmerman said in a statement. “As a gay man who grew up in the 1970’s, I understand the feelings of isolation and heartbreak that so many of our youth confront in their lives.”
Zimmerman and D’Arrigo both said they would fight for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community if elected to Congress.