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Target CEO Says Reaction to Bathroom Policy ‘Just Like’ when They First Used Blacks in Ads

Retail giant Target has finally come out with a more detailed response to critics of its pro-transgender bathroom policy. In an interview, the company’s CEO likened the harsh response to the policy to the days when the company first began using black models in its advertisements.

According to the Star Tribune, Target CEO Brian Cornell told CNBC’s Squawk Box program that the company was going to stick with its new bathroom policy, while maneuvering to take heat off the controversial decision.

For well over a month the store refrained from making much of a statement about the controversy as the boycott effort grew and the retail chain’s stock price fell.

Now the chain’s CEO is speaking out, saying the company has received “quite a bit of feedback.”

In it’s initial April 19 statement, the store said, “We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”

The company was effectively saying that customers could enter any bathroom they chose at any given time.

But now Target’s top man seems to be backing off the strict observance of the original policy by shifting the decision to family-style restrooms as opposed to allowing men to use women’s restrooms and changing rooms and vice versa.

“We want to make sure we provide a welcoming environment for all of our guests,” Cornell told the cable station. “One that is safe, one that is comfortable.”

But the CEO went on saying, “The company will add family restrooms to all of its stores, an option for people who worry about the mixing of sexes in bathrooms.”

Presumably, building all new bathroom facilities designated for all people is an expense the company feels is a worthwhile expenditure. But the new facilities may not fully satisfy LGBT and pro-transgender advocates who don’t want separate but equal facilities and want to be able to chose whatever bathroom they wish to use.

Cornell also didn’t mention if transgender men would still be allowed to use the women’s changing rooms.

Still, Cornell congratulated himself and his company for “taking a stand.” But even with the bravado, the CEO seemed to admit the protesters have a point about the safety of Target’s bathrooms since the policy was announced.

“We took a stance,” Cornell said. “We’re going to continue to embrace our belief in diversity and inclusion, just how important that is to our company. But we’re also going to make sure our focus on safety is unwavering.”

However, Cornell went on to compare the new pro-transgender policy to racism by equating to the response he claims the company got when it first started using black models in its advertising.

“Back then, it wasn’t well received,” the CEO said. “We had a lot of tough feedback. But sitting here today, we know we made the right decision.”

The whole controversy erupted in mid April when Target announced it intended to allow men who claim to be transgender to use store women’s rooms whenever they feel the need to do so.

Almost immediately the store was hit with a boycott and petition effort reaching over a million signers and sparking protests in front of Target stores across the country.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com

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