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For back-to-school shopping season, the American Family Association is once again calling for a boycott of Target due to its inclusive bathroom policy.
The AFA, identified as a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center, had initiated the boycott in April 2016 after Target implemented a policy that allows for employees and customers to use the restrooms and dressing rooms that correspond with their gender identity. The policy served as a strike back at the state of North Carolina, which had passed a law (now partly repealed) that restricted restroom use by transgender people, although it affected only government buildings, not private companies like Target. Target shelled out $20 million to install single-stall restrooms for customers who were uncomfortable with the inclusive policy.
"As back-to-school shopping season nears, I'm asking your family to avoid shopping at Target stores ... and to warn your friends about the danger Target presents to women and children," the AFA wrote in its most recent post about the boycott. "Together we are making an unprecedented financial impact on a corporation whose policy is to allow men to use women's restrooms and dressing rooms. Target's decision is unacceptable for families, and their dangerous and misguided policy continues to put women and children in harm's way."
In AFA's assertion that the bathroom policy will lead to men invading women's restrooms, it cites nine news articles about cisgender men harassing women in restrooms, and one incident in which a transgender woman is a perpetrator. However, supporters of the bathroom policy note that such individuals could already be prosecuted under existing laws on sexual assault and that revoking a transgender-friendly policy would not make those restrooms safer. Indeed, transgender people often suffer harassment in public restrooms.
On its website, AFA said its boycott caused a "significant drop" in foot traffic, a decrease in sales and earnings, and a drop in Target's stock in 2016. While Business Insider wrote that the boycott was what hurt Target financially, Time cited other reasons for Target's decrease in earnings and foot traffic that year, like the inability to keep up with its brick-and-mortar competitors in groceries and fashion, and the success of online retail giant Amazon. The company's CEO said the boycott did not hurt sales.
AFA's website did not discuss Target's competitors or which businesses its supporters should patronize instead of Target. At the time of the boycott's announcement, competitors Walmart and Kmart had kept mum about their bathroom policies.
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