Target announced Wednesday that it will spend $20 million to install gender-neutral restrooms in each of its stores, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The company already has inclusive facilities in all but about 300 of its nearly 1,800 U.S. stores and says the addition is part of an ongoing effort to make all customers and employees feel welcome. Most of those bathrooms are expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
“We put that in motion for some time prior to the [June] shareholders meeting,” spokeswoman Katie Boylan said. “At the end of the day, Target is all about inclusion. We want everyone to feel comfortable in our stores.”
The move comes in the wake of protests and boycotts over Target’s earlier statement supporting the rights of transgender people to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender. Target’s chief financial officer Cathy Smith said the decision is a response to those who have expressed discomfort with the possibility of sharing a public restroom with a transgender person and is not related to the stores recent sales downturn.
Opponents of Target’s trans-inclusive policy, who have gathered more than one million signatures of support online, claim that their boycott is responsible for the store’s drop in sales.
“We’re confident that our boycott has played a significant role in Target’s financial results that came out today,” Walker Wildmon, a spokesperson for the American Family Association, told CNN.
According to the Associated Press, the store’s recent poor performance is likely a result of its struggle to balance its various offerings, which range from trendy clothing and housewares to groceries and electronics.
In comments to the Wall Street Journal, Wildmon reiterated the AFA’s opposition to Target’s policy.
“If the majority feel uncomfortable, they will have to go into the single-stall bathroom,” he said. “Transgender individuals should have to use the single-stall if they feel uncomfortable using the facilities assigned on their birth certificate.”
Mara Keisling, executive director at the National Center for Transgender Equality, expressed support for Target’s inclusion of gender-neutral restrooms.
“There are lots of gender nonconforming people who will be happy about this and will use those bathrooms,” she said, “and most transgender people will continue to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity as they have been doing for decades.”