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More than 500,000 boycott Target over transgender bathroom policy

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 4/25/2016 Hadley Malcolm

A petition boycotting Target over its policy to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice in its stores has gained nearly half a million signatures. © Damian Dovarganes, AP A petition boycotting Target over its policy to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice in its stores has gained nearly half a million signatures. A conservative Christian activist group has gained more than half a million signatures and counting from people pledging to boycott Target over its transgender bathroom policy.

The petition started by the American Family Association on Wednesday raises concerns that Target's inclusive stance on transgender rights encourages sexual predators and puts women and young girls in danger, because "a man can simply say he 'feels like a woman today' and enter the women's restroom."

The boycott has more than 503,000 signatures as of Monday morning, marking it as one of AFA's most popular campaigns.

"This is the best response we’ve ever had this quick," says AFA President Tim Wildmon, attributing the protest's viral nature to the fact that "everybody knows who Target is, and it’s an easy-to-understand issue." 

Wildmon says Target stands "to lose a lot of customers who won't come back." But Target is standing by its policy.

"We certainly respect that there are a wide variety of perspectives and opinions," says Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder. "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."

She added that hundreds of Target stores "have single-stall, family restrooms for those who may be more comfortable with that option."

Target made its position public in a blog post last week, stating that the company welcomes "transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity." The announcement comes as legislation on transgender issues in multiple states has spurred several major corporations and businesses to take a stance on LGBT rights.

The American Family Association, a non-profit based in Tupelo, Miss., frequently protests on issues that target what it considers traditional family values. Its more recent campaigns include canceling the organization's use of PayPal after that company pulled back on plans to open a new facility in North Carolina, which recently passed a law requiring transgender people using public bathrooms to use the one that aligns with their gender at birth. 

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