alt
impact
Walgreens' Trans-Inclusive Bathrooms Protested By Hate Group Behind Bogus Target Boycott

The American Family Association is at it again.

The anti-LGBTQ hate group is calling for a boycott of Walgreens after the national drugstore chain announced it would be rolling out a new trans-inclusive bathroom policy at more than 8,100 locations. The company claimed in a statement that it would henceforth allow customers to use the bathroom which corresponds with their gender identity in its stores.

“All individuals have a right to use restroom facilities that correspond to the individual’s gender identity, regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth,” Walgreens claimed in a press release.

In response, the AFA calls upon conservatives and concerned customers to stop shopping at its stores.

“Walgreens’ store policy endangers women and children by allowing men to frequent women’s restrooms,” claims the petition, citing a widely debunked myth. “As an example, since a similar public policy was announced by Target Stores, Inc. two years ago, dozens of women and children have been victimized by male predators inside Target stores.”

“Walgreens’ new policy could potentially result in female customers becoming victims of voyeurism, sexual assault and physical attack,” it continues.

The AFA did not respond to a question for comment from INTO prior to publication time. However, the Family Research Councilwhich also has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centertold the Christian Broadcast Network that Walgreens should have learned from Target’s example.

“Walgreens should have taken a lesson from Target when they made a point of announcing their pro-transgender bathroom policy which was devastating to their bottom line in terms of their stock price,” Sprigg claimed.

When Target announced in March 2016 that it would allow trans customers to use the bathroom with which they are most comfortable, the AFA launched a nationwide boycott of the big box chainone they claim has been signed more than 1.5 million times. Conservatives have also alleged the boycott led to major financial troubles for the company.

In truth, the impact of conservative backlash was likely negligibleas INTO has previously reported in detail.

Aside from the fact that in-person protests against the store were barely attended, many of the signatures on the original petition blasting Target were fraudulent. Because the AFA’s website doesn’t monitor the IP addresses of users, motivated protesters had the ability to sign the entreaty multiple times from the same computer. A bot could sign it thousands of times.

The conservative website doesn’t appear to have addressed the issue since. INTO was able to sign the petition against Walgreens as “H.R. Puffinstuff,” “Derek Zoolander,” and “Lil’ Poundcake” using such emails as “[email protected]” and “[email protected]

Walgreens was not available to comment on the petition before this story went to print.

Although the assertion that “dozens” of customers stand to be harmed by Walgreens’ inclusive bathroom policy is false, the push wasn’t initiated by a transgender person. Jessie Meehan, a cisgender woman, filed a complaint through the American Civil Liberties Union after being blocked from using the women’s bathroom at a store in Los Angeles.

Meehan told INTO last week that trans acceptance is “everyone’s issue.”

“It took me a long time to become comfortable with myself, and I’m sure it’s that way for a lot of trans people, too: becoming comfortable with who they are and their gender,” Meehan said at the time. “Nobody has a right to tell someone they can’t express themselvesor that they are weird or wrong.”

The ACLU agreed.

“In an ideal world, the best policies apply to everyone because it’s not exclusively a transgender issue, and having staff speculate who or who might not be transgender doesn’t help anyone,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Amanda Goad in a statement.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


Nico Lang

Nico Lang is a staff writer for INTO, covering news, politics, and global LGBTQ issues.