-- More than 900,000 people have signed a petition to boycott Target after the company’s announcement last week to allow transgender people to use the bathroom and fitting rooms corresponding with their gender identity, rather than the sex indicated on their birth certificate.
The American Family Association, a Christian nonprofit organization based in Mississippi, launched the petition on April 20. The AFA says it “has been on the frontlines of America’s culture war”; it has been deemed an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“We decided there’s probably a lot of people who wanted to take a stand before Target’s decision started a trend,” AFA President Tim Wildmon told ABC News today. “We found out we were right.”
The petition argues that Target’s inclusivity decision will allow a man to say he “’feels like a woman today’ and enter the women’s restroom ... even if young girls and women are already in there.”
Wildmon said the AFA doesn’t plan to present the petition to Target since it is online for the company to view, adding that the policy “is just insanity and someone has got to stand up to it.” He said he hopes the petition will reach 1 million signatures by Friday.
At the bottom of the petition, the AFA included links to stories that describe incidents when men allegedly cross-dressed to view and/or sexually assault women in changing areas and restrooms.
But Kris Hayashi, executive director at the Transgender Legal Center, pointed out that there are already laws in place to protect all people from harassment in bathrooms and changing rooms, and those protections are still in place even when allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. If a man dresses as a woman to go into a bathroom to prey on women or children, he is still breaking the law, Hayashi told ABC News today.
He added that “70 percent of transgender people have reported being denied entrance harassed or assaulted when trying to use the bathroom, according to a study done by the Williams Institute.”
“We’re just trying to live our lives and use the bathroom just like anyone else,” Hayashi said.
People have taken to social media to show their support for the boycott called for in the petition.
But others have shown opposition to the petition.
The City of Oxford in Alabama passed an ordinance on Tuesday in response to Target’s new policies. The ordinance makes it illegal to use public restrooms and changing areas that are different from the sex on the person’s birth certificate. Transgender people in Oxford would still be able to use the bathroom at Target corresponding with their gender identity since it is a private company.
Oxford Police Chief Bill Partridge told the Associated Press that the law will be enforced like any other city ordinance, such as noise violations or public indecency, and violators would have to pay a fine of up to $500 or face up to six months of jail time.
Target is not the only company to support LGBT employees and the broader LGBT community. The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index 2016 report showed the 407 businesses that achieved a perfect score of 100, including Apple, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Toyota, American Express and Nike.
Target, the second-largest discount retailer in the nation, also supports the federal Equality Act, which, if passed, would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
In a statement on April 19, when Target first announced its decision, it said, “We believe that everyone -- every team member, every guest, and every community -- deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally.”