CHICAGO (Christian Examiner) -- A petition calling for a boycott of Target because of its new transgender bathroom policy soared to nearly 700,000 signatures Tuesday morning, as the retailer continued to get pushback from customers who say the rule endangers women and children.
Under the new policy, people can use whichever restroom corresponds with the gender identity they choose.
Launched April 20, the American Family Association petition reads simply, "Target's store policy endangers women and children by allowing men to frequent women's facilities. Until Target makes the safety of women and children a priority, I will shop elsewhere."
Although some may scoff at AFA's concerns, they are not simply theoretical. In February, a man in board shorts undressed at a women's locker room at a Seattle public pool, and when patrons and staff tried to run him out, he stated, "the law has changed and I have the right to be here." Washington state had passed a transgender law, similar to the now-Target policy.
The man was not arrested, even though he came back a second time when young girls were changing clothes, KING 5 reported.
AFA charged the Target policy "means a man can simply say he 'feels like a woman today' and enter the women's restroom ... even if young girls or women are already in there."
Target's Facebook page has been inundated with customers concerned about the new policy – even though Target has not yet announced the policy on the social media site. For example, an April 16 post by Target about cucumber sushi rolls elicited more than 2,700 comments – nearly all of them about the restroom policy. An April 23 post about coconut curry soup drew more than 4,700 comments. By comparison, a March 1 Target food post, prior to the controversy, received only 70 comments.
One popular comment, by Facebook follower Marni Irene, read, "Simple question, Can a MAN go into the public bathroom that says 'women' or not? Can a woman go into a public restroom that says 'men' or not? Scenario: A man walks into the woman's bathroom in Target, he is dressed as a man, he is NOT trans-gendered. However, he wants to go into the bathroom and ogle women, NOT BECAUSE HE IS TG, but because he is a predator. ... If a woman complains, all that guy has [to] do is hide under the statement 'I am TG and I can do this.'"
Target responded to the comment, but skirted the core of the question: "Hi Marni - Thanks for letting us know you need more details. We welcome guests to use the facilities, restroom or fitting room that correspond to their gender identity."
Irene's post received 1,235 likes, Target's reply 1,002.
"That does not answer my question," Irene replied. "Can a man, who is a regular guy, dressed in men's clothing, NOT TG use the women's room or not?"
Target, though, did not answer the second question.
Target's silence on the controversy has been noticeable to its customers.
"Target's new gender identity policy is exactly what sexual predators have been waiting for," Christopher Holguin wrote. "Predators will be able to enter opposite sex restrooms and dressing rooms without suspicion."
Wrote another customer, KT Boston, "Target has lost the interest of its customers. I suppose they don't need the business of mothers anymore. And that's fine with me. I won't give it to them."
The American Family Association said there is a simple solution: a unisex restroom.
"Target should keep separate facilities for men and women, but for the trans community and for those who simply like using the bathroom alone, a single occupancy unisex bathroom option should be provided," AFA wrote.