Target makes a big move following furor over the company's transgender bathroom policy
Posted August 28, 2016
Target, a popular retail chain, has announced it will spend $20 million in the coming months to add single-stall bathrooms to hundreds of its stores — a move that comes following furor over the store chain's transgender bathroom stance.
The company announced in April — amid debate over North Carolina's law requiring people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their biological sex — that transgender patrons would, instead, be allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their self-described gender.
"In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways," a company blog post read at the time. "Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity."
Debate immediately ensued and, months later, Target is emphasizing an alternative option: private bathrooms.
"Some of our guests clearly are uncomfortable with our policy, and some are supportive," Cathy Smith, chief financial officer of Target, told reporters during a Wednesday conference call, according to NPR.
Single-stall bathrooms are reportedly already available in 1,400 of the company's 1,800 stores, with Target announcing it will outfit the remaining locations with private restrooms by 2017.
Company spokeswoman Katie Boylan told USA Today Target isn't altering its transgender bathroom policy, but the company has heard from both supporters and opponents and is "listening" to both sides.
"We get it," Boylan said. "Some like it, some don't."
The debate over Target's policy came in the form of intense protests and calls for boycotts from prominent conservative groups.
The American Family Association, a conservative activist group, was among those who rallied against Target's position, collecting more than 1.4 million signatures and urging people to boycott the retailer; others followed suit.
"Target's policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims," the American Family Association's petition reads, in part. "And with Target publicly boasting that men can enter women's bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?"
The bathroom announcement was made as Smith also spoke about Target's decreased quarterly earnings. Sales were down 7.2 percent, and traffic to the company's stores declined — the first decrease in nearly two years, according to The Washington Post.
The company didn't necessarily blame its sales woes on the transgender bathroom debate, though, saying electronics sales were down, and grocery departments need to be improved.
That said, there is reportedly a sense among executives of a definite need to attract the audience that was turned off by the initial bathroom policy, The Washington Post explained.
As Deseret News National has noted, Target is hardly the first store to enter the transgender debate, with a longtime Macy's employee claiming he was recently fired for questioning the store's transgender policy.
In a separate incident in 2011, another Macy's employee was reportedly fired for refusing to allow a biological male who identified as a female to use the lady's dressing room.
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