A number of Target stores faced protests over the weekend from parents concerned about child sexual predators harming their children following the retail giant's announcement last month that its policy allows customers who are men according to their birth sex to go into women's bathrooms and dressing rooms.
One such protest took place outside a Target store in Jackson, Mississippi, 16 WAPT News reported, with protesters explaining their concerns: "A man could put on a dress and say, 'I identify as a transgender,' and they can go in there," said Keith Daltol.
Parent Johnny Brekeen added, "I'm not saying that a transgender would harm a child. What I'm saying is if men are allowed to go into the restroom, children are going to be harmed."
Over 1.2 million people have signed an American Family Association petition pledging to boycott Target over its bathroom policy, while observers such as the Family Policy Institute of Washington have reported on plunging stock prices that the company is facing in the wake of the controversy.
Target has explained that it wants its stores to feel more inclusive to both employees and customers.
"In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity," a statement from Target announced.
"Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you'll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target."
Another protest against the chain store giant took place in Layton, Utah, ABC4 Utah reported, with one of the protesters, a mother of four, warning that there are as many as 209 registered sex offenders within a 5 mile radius of that particular store.
"With Target's new policy, it's unverifiable. You cannot verify a person's intent, so these sexual predators will use these policies to gain access into the women's restroom, making it a dangerous place for women and children," said Carrie Peterson.
Peterson is leading a separate petition drive calling on Target to reverse its decision and designate men's bathrooms for men, and women's for women.
AFA President Tim Wildmon wrote in a USA Today op-ed last week that people's safety should not be compromised over political correctness.
"If we are going to allow individuals to define reality according to their feelings, then Target should allow a 20-year-old to get a senior discount if he self-identifies as a 65-year-old. Would Target accept that self-identity? If not, why not, based on their logic?" he asked.
AFA is calling on gender-specific facilities to be maintained, but suggest unisex options be made available to the transgendered community.
"As someone has recently noted, a transgendered man, for example, who walks past a unisex restroom in order to enter the woman's bathroom is not primarily interested in relieving himself. He wants to make a point," Wildmon wrote.