While Rodney the Lifeguard (pictured at left) is just a fictional lifeguard from the Ocean City Beach Patrol used in a tourism advertising campaign, the real Beach Patrol is in the news now for what has become a hot-button issue in recent months.
The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday night that the Captain of the Beach Patrol, Butch Arbin, sent an email Sunday telling members of the Beach Patrol to use the locker room “that corresponds to your DNA.”
Arbin has been Captain for 20 years and a member of the beach patrol for 40. He is a teacher in Charles County during the school year and has been named Maryland Physical Education Teacher of the Year in the past.
More from the Sun on the email:
“We are not Target,” Melbourne “Butch” Arbin III wrote in an email Sunday to several dozen Beach Patrol members. “Males use the men’s locker room only! Females use the women’s locker room only!
“If you’re not sure,” he concluded, “go to Target.”
A city flack, who heard about the email from the reporter, called the comments “inappropriate” and not funny and said Arbin could face discipline, which is based on the decision of the Emergency Services Director. The director said that the comments were “insensitive” and “not a true reflection of [Arbin], our department or the Town of Ocean City.”
The emergency services manager also noted that Arbin had not intended to insult any individual or group with his words.
Arbin sent an email to his staff Monday apologizing for the original email that included these lines:
I used humor to make the point. However, this is not the same issue that has been in the news. The males that have used the Women’s locker room are not using out of necessity or because they are identifying as a woman, they are using it out of convenience.
Arbin also noted in the story from the Sun that his original email was sent after women members of the patrol had complained about men using the women’s locker room. He also noted that there are plenty of unisex restrooms available to patrol members and that there are no transgender employees. He noted that he was making a joke using the Target reference because toilet seats in women’s restrooms were being left in the raised position.
Arbin, who hadn’t heard any complaints, also said, “”I don’t care about being politically correct. That’s one of the problems in the country right now.”
He had no complaints against him according to the city’s flack and expressed surprise that anyone had passed it on without discussing it with him.
Beach Patrol captain’s email compared to Orlando massacre
Patrick Paschall, executive director of FreeState Equality Maryland, told the Sun that he and his staff had received a copy of the original message. He claimed the email violated Maryland discrimination laws and made fun of transgender people while contributing to hate and violence.
Paschall also attacked the email by invoking this weekend’s horrific massacre at a gay nightclub by a radical Islamist terrorist in Orlando that killed 49 and injured over 50 others:
“I don’t know how to express the level of anger,” he said, “especially in light of the massacre in Orlando.”
I wouldn’t be surprised with that heated rhetoric if they didn’t also go after Arbin’s teaching job in addition to the beach patrol one.