Target plans to spend $20 million adding single-stall, lockable bathrooms to all store locations after a controversy over a new policy that allows transgender people to use the restroom and fitting room that correspond with the gender they self-identify with.
“Across the board, our goal is to make sure that everyone feels welcome at Target,” Katie Boylan, Target’s vice president of communications, told The Daily Signal.
In April, Target announced the new transgender policy. Boylan said Target has openly listened to guest feedback since then.
“The feedback has been mixed,” Boylan said. Some guests have been very supportive of the bathroom policy, while others “less so,” she said.
In response to the bathroom policy, over 1.4 million people signed a pledge to boycott Target.
“We committed in the spring to making sure that every store across the country has a single-stall, lockable restroom for those who would like to use it,” Boylan said. The remodels in Target’s 1,800 store locations across the country have been under way since then, she said, and will cost $20 million.
The American Family Association, a nonprofit that supports Christian values, started the pledge in April to boycott Target.
“Target’s announcement that it is installing unisex bathrooms does nothing to address the objections of more than 1.4 million customers who are boycotting the retail giant,” Ed Vitagliano, executive vice president of the American Family Association, said in a statement to The Daily Signal. He added:
While AFA did suggest single-occupancy, unisex bathrooms as a way to help the retailer’s transgender customers, our major concern was that Target’s policy would grant voyeurs and sexual predators easier access to their victims by allowing men in women’s restrooms and changing areas, which puts women and girls in danger.
“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.” —@AmericanFamAssc
In July, a man who identifies as a woman videotaped an 18-year-old girl in an Idaho Target dressing room. Authorities arrested and charged the man, age 43, who told police that he previously made other videos of women undressing, Time reported.
“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,” Vitagliano said.
The $20 million investment does not change Target’s fitting room policy and accommodations.
“This partial backtracking proves what everyone already knew, that Target lost customers in droves after it announced that men would be allowed full access to women’s intimate facilities at its stores,” Roger Severino, director of the Devos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.
In the immediate two weeks following Target’s announcement of the policy, Target’s stock declined by 4.2 percent.
Target announced its second quarter earnings on Wednesday. Sales decreased by 7.2 percent from last year.
“We have no evidence that says the bathroom policy has had a material impact on our business at this time,” Boylan said.
The policy has had no impact on business in both the last financial quarter and this quarter, Boylan added.
“For too long big businesses like Target have put the interests of loud gender identity activists over the legitimate safety and privacy concerns of its everyday customers,” Heritage’s Severino said. “Target is of course free to do what it wants, but so are its customers, and it is an open question as to whether they will return given that men are still allowed into women’s spaces at Target even under the new policies.”