Oyster Bay Town Councilman Steven Labriola took down his Twitter account and apologized Monday after criticism of his weekend tweet about gender-neutral airline bookings.
Labriola said in the tweet United Airlines’ new policy to allow passengers to book flights without identifying their gender was “corporate lunacy” and an example of “Another company trying to appease, believing this will help their profit margin.”
Labriola tweeted that people should add the airline to a list of companies to avoid, along with Nike and Gillette.
A Long Island LGBT leader denounced the Twitter post.
“It was completely unnecessary and reckless to attack a company or companies that are promoting inclusive policies for the transgender community,” David Kilmnick, president and chief executive of Westbury-based LGBT Network, said. Kilmnick called for Labriola to apologize or resign.
“What those types of tweets do, it incites hate, it promotes hate,” Kilmnick said.
United’s new policy allows passengers to book flights as Mr., Ms. or Mx., which United says is a “non-binary gender option.”
“As soon as I realized it was offensive to some, I took it down,” Labriola said Monday. “I apologize for my insensitivity.”
Labriola said he deleted his tweet in response to criticism and closed his Twitter account.
“It was a flippant remark noting the irony of these corporations who are trying to profit from the LGBT community, or other national controversies, that they insert themselves in,” Labriola said, adding he did not mean to be discriminatory to the LGBT community.
Labriola said Nike and Gillette also became involved in national controversies.
Nike advertisements featured Colin Kaepernick, who as a professional football player knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Gillette ran a commercial featuring messages against sexual harassment and abusive male behavior.
Kilmnick said Labriola’s apology was “not enough.”
“A tweeted apology would be definitely appropriate,” Kilmnick said. His organization’s staff would be willing to give Labriola and his staff sensitivity training, Kilmnick said.
Labriola, a former state assemblyman, was appointed to the town board last month to replace Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia, who resigned.