As an online petition to boycott Target continues to attract signatures, an American Family Association leader said the organization has sent men into women’s bathrooms at Target.
The petition, which launched on April 20 in response to Target’s statement that transgender individuals can use the bathroom and fitting room that corresponds with their gender identities, has surpassed a million signatures. As of Tuesday morning, it had more than 1,155,000 signatures.
“We believe that everyone - every team member, every guest, and every community - deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally,” Target’s statement read. “Consistent with this belief, Target supports the federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBT individuals, and opposes action that enables discrimination.”
Now, in an interview on Breitbart News Daily, a conservative website, Sandy Rios, Director of Government Affairs for the American Family Association, said the organization has sent men to Target to attempt entry into women’s bathrooms. She did not mention the gender identity of these men.
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Rios says, “I think there’s no question that when you say that there are no barriers in the bathroom and that if men or women feel like they are men or women, the [opposite] of however they are equipped, and you have no restrictions, the net effect will be that people will not be stopped. We’ve already had people testing this, going into Targets and men trying to go into bathrooms. There is absolutely no barrier.”
While there is no evidence of American Family Association-affiliated men entering women’s restrooms in Target, YouTube has filled with videos of men doing just that. Many of the videos include the men protesting the policy.
The AFA has been listed as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that monitors hate groups. The AFA “has been extremely vocal over the years in its opposition to LGBT rights, marriage equality and allowing gay men and lesbians to serve in the military,” the SPLC says on its website.
The boycott has affected Target, USA Today reported. According to data compiled by YouGov BrandIndex, a research company focused on brand perception, Target suffered a loss of 4 percent of people who say they would consider shopping at the store. Before the statement regarding its bathrooms, 42 percent of people said they would consider the retail giant. After, that number had dropped to 38 percent, a shift YouGov CEO Ted Marzilli called “significant.”
Melissa Arnoff, on the other hand, doesn’t see cause for worry. The senior vice president at crisis communications firm Levick told USA Today that she didn’t think the boycott will hurt Target in the long run. In fact, it could actually help the brand as it upholds its self-curated identity.
“I don’t think they stand to lose much at all,” Arnoff said. “This isn’t unusual for them. It’s actually very true to who they say they are as a brand. I think the people who shop there loyally know that.”