News Articles

Target’s bathroom fix falls short, boycotters say

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (BP) — Target’s $20 million plan to add single-stall bathrooms in its U.S. stores does not fix its policy allowing bathroom and dressing room use based on gender identity, the leader of a national boycott against the company said.

Target announced Aug. 17 the timeline and cost of its plan to install the locking, single-toilet bathrooms for customers who feel uncomfortable using the bathroom with those who identify as transgendered. Details of the plan came the same day Target released its second quarter earnings report showing a 7.2 percent drop in sales. Target’s stock dropped 3.3 percent in premarket trade the same day, MarketWatch announced.

Target’s transgender bathroom and dressing room policy remains in place and needs to simply be reversed, said Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association (AFA) that has collected 1.4 million signatures on a petition to boycott Target.

“The point is keeping men out of women’s restrooms. That’s the point,” Wildmon told Baptist Press. “This doesn’t solve that, unless Target says our policy is men go to men’s restrooms and women go to women’s restrooms and all other people can use this family [single stall] restroom. That’s a solution.”

The addition of the single-stall bathrooms is aimed at pleasing all customers, Target spokeswoman Katie Boylan said, and not an admission that the transgender bathroom policy instituted in April has hurt its business. The new bathrooms will be available to anyone wanting privacy, including individuals and adults with small children of either gender.

“With a retail operation of Target’s size and scope there are many, many, many factors that come into account when we look at our results,” she told Baptist Press, citing weather, seasonality, holidays, pricing and assortment, among other things. “There are so many variables that it’s nearly impossible to isolate the impact of any given one.”

Target announced a few months ago its intention to make the lockable, single-stall bathrooms available in all of its stores, Boylan said, and “decided it was prudent to move forward.”

“In sharing the bathroom policy we have been listening very closely to our guests’ feedback,” she said, “and certainly there are guests who feel very strongly in support of the [transgender] policy, others who are less so. At the end of the day, Target wants everyone to feel heard and welcome in our stores. Safety is an absolutely a priority.”

All but 300 of the 1,800 Targets in the U.S. already have the single-stall bathrooms available, Boylan said, and by the end of the year, the special restrooms will have been installed in all but 25 U.S. stores. The remaining stores will get the stalls by 2017, she said.

For its second quarter, which ended July 30, Target’s sales fell 7.2 percent to $16.2 billion from $17.4 billion during the same period in 2015, according to its financial report. Its second quarter stock earnings fell to $680 million, or $1.16 a share, compared to $753 million, or $1.18 a share during the same period in 2015, MarketWatch reported Aug. 17.

AFA Public Policy Analyst Abraham Hamilton III said the numbers speak for themselves.

“All those numbers mean target is doing pretty bad, and our boycott definitely had an impact on them,” Hamilton said in a video posted at AFA.net. “Other retailers sold more; target is continuing to see a downgrade.”

Wildmon said the boycott has also been effective in swaying other retailers from following Target’s lead.

“The target boycott has been effective in stopping other companies from doing the same thing, because very few … of the national retailers announced they were doing this after they saw what happened to Target,” Wildmon said. “Ultimately we hope to win. We hope that Target will announce [a] sensible bathroom and changing area policy and everybody’s happy. This is just kind of baffling why they would do something like this and lose all this business over this.”

A few major retailers, including Ross, T.J. Maxx, Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, have announced gender-identity-based bathroom and dressing room policies, according to USA Today, and Starbucks and Barnes & Noble follow such policies for bathroom use.

As recently as June 24, a man who identifies as a woman was arrested for felony voyeurism, accused of taking pictures of a woman changing clothes in a Target dressing room in Ammon, Idaho, the Idaho Falls Post Register reported.

“There’s a reason we have separate changing areas and restroom facilities, and we’ve had them around the world forever, because men and women don’t want to go to restrooms with the opposite sex,” Wildmon said. “That’s why we have them separated. People know this. It’s intuitive for all kinds of reasons.”

AFA’s boycott petition is available at www.afa.net/action-alerts/sign-the-boycott-target-pledge/.