O’Hara criticized for Facebook comments on transgender case

O’Hara criticized for Facebook comments on transgender case

NORTH SMITHFIELD – North Smithfield Town Councilor Claire O’Hara found herself under fire from some residents this week for comments she made on Facebook regarding transgender individuals.

O’Hara shared a link on her personal Facebook page to a Fox News article about Shawnee State University professor Nicholas Meriwether. A federal court ruled in favor of Meriweather’s right to sue the university last month after he was reprimanded for refusing to refer to a student by their preferred pronouns.

O’Hara commented on the post that “Biology is a fact … not a choice. Even with surgery. The original species is an altered state.”

The post gained a swift reaction from local residents, several of whom shared a screenshot of it on their own Facebook pages. Some alumni of North Smithfield schools commented they were disappointed to see O’Hara, a retired teacher, making the comments.

On Monday, three individuals shared their own reactions to the post during the public comment portion of the Town Council meeting. Cynthia Roberts, a resident and co-founder of the Engage North Smithfield Facebook group, said the comments were inappropriate and hurtful to transgender people.

“All of us, many people, have trans friends, colleagues, children, family members, and we are asking you, we are calling you in to learn what actual health and actual transgender issues are because you’re incorrect, what you said,” she said.

Elijah LeDuc, a resident of Woonsocket Hill Road, said transgender individuals experience violence and discrimination every day and the post wasn’t helping the environment.

“I think you have a responsibility to the community and the people that you represent not to just share things that you think may be true,” he said. “The people of this town rely on you to represent them and their ideas as well.”

Megan Staples, who is also involved with the Engage North Smithfield group, said O’Hara needs to educate herself on transgender issues.

“What Ms. O’Hara posted was completely inappropriate. It’s 2021, there’s absolutely no excuse for it anymore,” she said.

O’Hara responded to the criticism on Tuesday, telling The Valley Breeze she was surprised and heartbroken by the response.

“I think everybody has a right to think differently and I will constantly defend your right. But when it constantly becomes a personal attack –,” she said, trailing off.

O’Hara said she has no issue with transgender individuals and is supportive of a former student going through a change but thinks people have a right to voice their opinions.

“Maybe they should get educated on the Constitution. You have a right to say something as long as the person’s not being attacked. You can voice your opinion on the philosophy,” she said.

O’Hara also said she was hurt by the way she was presented in critics’ comments and didn’t think they represented the majority of the opinions of town residents.

“If you want to talk to me, talk to me. But they’re on the attack,” she said. “If those students want to come and talk to me, my door is always open. I’m a grandteacher. I’ve had a lot of their students. I’ve had their children.”

“People deserve happiness,” she added. “At least, that’s how I feel. Just lead a good life. It’s what I have inside.”

Comments

As a former 3-term member of the Cumberland School Committee, along with serving on a number of other Boards and Commissions, I just wanted to let it be known that I, as I am sure do a majority of the populace, support Mrs. O'Hara 110% and her right to express herself as she sees is appropriate!

No, those that choose to take that path should not be discriminated against, or ridiculed, etc....however, that "Element" of our Society, and the Bleeding Heart Do-Gooders that support them, and their, often, tadical agenda, especially boys that have only gone half-way in the transition process, competing against girls, are "Out-Of-Control"...along with some of their demands!

This is what the town elected. If you disagree with Ms. O'Hara's opinions then please vote for someone more qualified to make town decisions. Too many times voters elect people out of popularity instead of qualifications. A good council person needs skills in leadership, operational management, negations, law and finance. Can someone tell me what is a grand teacher?

Aahhh...so character assassination is alive and well in North Smithfield. The cancel culture demands that you never speak of biological facts. Such a sad time to live in where basic scientific facts are now taboo. Galileo was persecuted in 1610 for having the nerve to say that the Earth was not the center of the universe. Apparently 400 years of human development has not gone anywhere when it comes to facts. To Ms. O'Hara - it isn't worth it to argue with these dark age-thinking people.

Cry me a river, Claire.

Every person on earth is entitled to "HIS" or "HER" own opinion ! If "YOU" don't like it oh well ! If you DO like it oh well ! All I can say is thank you Claire !

about what these fringe loons think O'hara. Libs don't like facts it makes their heads hurt.

This is still America, the land of the free. Ms O'Hara has a right to her opinion. Others have a right to agree with her. Get over it and follow SCIENCE. You know, X & Y chromosomes? Or is this one of those times science gets ignored due to it not meeting with your agenda?

Councilor O’Hara is right: biology is a fact, and there are only two genders. The gender ideology of today contradicts basic biology and science. Modern gender ideology is one of the biggest threats facing the traditional family, and we should be thankful that we have Town Councilors who speak against gender discordance and defend the family. I commend your efforts.