- The Magazine
Retail giant Target will spend $20 million to outfit all of its stores to add single-stall restrooms for its customers.
The move by the company comes after conservative activists mounted a boycott of the store following its adoption of a policy that allows transgender individuals to use the bathroom that comports with their gender identity.
The company already had single-stall bathrooms at 1,400 of its 1,800 stores. Those have always and will continue to remain open to anyone, Target spokeswoman Katie Boylan told USA Today. The new investment will only cover those 400 or so stores that do not currently have single-stall options.
Yet the company is not budging from or altering its nondiscrimination policy or its transgender bathroom policy. Transgender individuals will still be able to use sex-segregated bathrooms based on their gender identity, as opposed to their assigned sex at birth. That policy was adopted in April amid an ongoing national debate over which facilities should be open to transgender people.
Following the announcement of Target’s pro-transgender policy, cultural conservatives balked. The American Family Association (AFA) started mounting a boycott of the chain. It enlisted more than 1.4 million people to sign a petition pledging to boycott Target until the store eliminated its pro-transgender restroom policy. The city of Oxford, Ala., also passed a law making it illegal to use the bathroom other than the one designated for one’s biological sex at birth. Those who violate the law can be punished with a $500 fine or six months in jail.
Initially, Target shook off the boycott, with its CEO vowing that the company would not change its restroom policy. But NBC News reports that the company’s second-quarter earnings had fallen 9.7 percent, causing its stocks to drop precipitously. Even though Boylan insists that “the impact [of the boycott] to the business is not material at this time,” the AFA and other conservative allies are touting that as a victory for the pro-boycott side.
“We’re confident that our boycott has played a significant role in Target’s financial results,” Walker Wildmon, assistant to the president of the AFA, told CNN Money in an interview. The AFA has not been clear as to whether they will continue to boycott the store, though they noted that they are fervently opposed to keeping the current policy in place.
“Unisex bathrooms are fine, but Target must maintain the gender-specific bathrooms as well — if the company is interested in guaranteeing the safety and privacy of women and girls who patronize the retailer’s stores,” AFA Executive Vice President Ed Vitagliano told NBC News.
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