Updated: 8:50 p.m.| Posted: 5:34 p.m.
Target will allow its transgender customers and employees to use restrooms and fitting rooms that correspond with their gender identities, the company announced Tuesday, joining the national debate on the topic.
"We believe that everyone — every team member, every guest, and every community — deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally," the company said in a statement posted on its Bullseye blog.
Target said "inclusivity is a core belief," but the ongoing debate prompted the retailer this week to talk to its employees about its stance.
"We stand for equality and equity, and strive to make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our store and workplaces every day," the company said.
Monica Meyer, executive director of OutFront Minnesota, an LGBTQ advocacy group, was pleased with the news.
"We think it's very powerful leadership when a company like Target comes forward to say all people should be treated equally, that there should be inclusion," Meyer said, especially "in this climate where transgender people are getting targeted with fear-mongering and anti-transgender discriminatory legislation."
North Carolina's ban of local anti-discrimination ordinances also prohibits transgender people from using public bathrooms not aligned with their sex at birth. The law has sparked boycotts from celebrities and lawmakers nationwide, including Gov. Mark Dayton. He ordered state employees not to travel on official business to North Carolina, unless it was essential.
Similar legislation has been proposed here and other states.
State Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, an author of the proposal in the Minnesota House said in an email he read the news accounts:
"If Target would be willing to review the overwhelming majority of federal cases and laws, including the 2001 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling, Goins vs West Group, they would realize that requiring individuals to use showers, dressing rooms, and restrooms based on biological sex is not 'discrimination,' Gruenhagen said. "Instead, these legal decisions and statues, along with HF3396, will protect the Constitutional right of privacy and public safety for all Minnesotans, gay, transgender, straight and children."
Gruenhagen added Target's policy "is based on feelings, not on an objective standard."