WASHINGTON – The American Family Association is going to war with Walgreens after the chain directed all of its 8,100 stores nationwide to open up restrooms to anyone based on their own gender self-identification.
The change followed one incident in a Los Angeles store in which a woman was denied use of the ladies room because “she looked like a man.”
The drugstore chain will now allow customers to “use restroom facilities that correspond to the individual’s gender identity, regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth,” according to officials.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California announced the policy change in a statement last week.
“Everyone needs safe restroom access, and California law protects every person’s right to access restrooms based on their gender identity in workplaces, schools, and business establishments,” explained ACLU SoCal Staff Attorney Amanda Goad. “It’s important for businesses to make sure their employees understand that requirement, just like Walgreens is now doing.”
But the AFA doesn’t see it that way. The organization believes its less safe to allow men who identify as women in ladies’ rooms.
“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,” said Tim Wildmon, president of the group.
He’s calling on AFA membership to call Walgreens t at 1-800-925-4733 and sign a petition to the company demanding a reversal. Walgreens customers are urged to voice concerns to local store managers.
“Walgreens’ new policy could potentially result in female customers becoming victims of voyeurism, sexual assault and physical attack by unrestrained men,” said Wildmon.
Jessie Meehan, an active member of the LGBTQ community, claims she was discriminated against last summer by a manager at Walgreens on Sunset Boulevard.
She said she had just spent roughly $20 in the store and asked a female clerk to use the bathroom, but was allegedly denied access due to her appearance.
“She told me I looked like a man and needed to use the men’s room,” Meehan recalled during an interview with the ACLU.
She said she asked to speak with a manager, and was then told by said manager that it was store policy to deny access to people based on their appearance.
“I had to go so I didn’t put up much of a fight and used the stall while the men used the urinals next to me,” Meehan wrote in an email to Walgreens. “This in itself was very humiliating for me and I felt extremely uncomfortable.”
Meehan also sent a letter to Walgreens – explaining what happened and providing suggestions on what they could do to fix the situation – but they didn’t initially respond.