Here’s How Target Customers Responded to a Bathroom Boycott Movement
This story has been updated to reflect a comment from Target.
On Tuesday, Target (TGT) announced that it would allow transgender people to use bathrooms and dressing rooms that correspond to their own gender identity, taking a stand in the restroom controversy that has created uproar in states like North Carolina.
The backlash against the retailer from traditionalists started immediately. On Wednesday, the American Family Association, a conservative Christian advocacy group, started a petition urging people to boycott Target until it changed its policy, which the group claimed “endangers women and children by allowing men to frequent women’s facilities.”
By Friday afternoon, more than 190,000 people had signed the AFA’s pledge. Others were angrily posting on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #BoycottTarget.
But as sometimes happens with hashtag campaigns, people with a different agenda jumped into the discussion in an attempt to send the opposite message.
In the case of Target, supporters of the retailer and its bathroom policy began tweeting using the same #BoycottTarget hashtag to accuse others of bigotry. One Twitter user also illustrated the practical complications of requiring transgender people to use the bathroom matching their sex at birth:
Target replied to at least one customer who complained on Facebook that the restroom policy would compromise shoppers’ safety.
“We also offer a single-stall, wheelchair accessible, bathroom for guests who need more space or who are more comfortable with that format,” a Target employee named Andy replied to the customer from the retailer’s Facebook account.
In a statement to Fortune, a Target spokesperson acknowledged the controversy but said the retailer planned to stick with its new bathroom policy: “We certainly respect that there are a wide variety of perspectives and opinions,” the spokesperson said. “As a company that firmly stands behind what it means to offer our team an inclusive place to work—and our guests an inclusive place to shop—we continue to believe that this is the right thing for Target.”