By Richard K. Nelson
Target offers offers a lot of items James and Tina Cole might purchase for their three children and five grandchildren. But, unless the national retailer changes its gender-identity restroom policy they won’t be spending their money there.
The Coles were among about 25 to 30 people protesting Saturday, April 30, at the parking lot entrances to Target on Medford Drive in Lufkin.
The protest was their response to Target’s statement earlier in April that it would allow transgender people to use whichever bathroom or fitting room corresponds with their gender identity.
“This opens the door for sexual predators to prey upon our wives, children, grandchildren,” said Leo Lytle, senior pastor at Faith Family Church in Burke, who organized the protest. “A man could claim to be transgender and enter a women’s bathroom.”
Lytle spent last week contacting other Angelina County churches to join in the protest.
“As a spiritual leader in the community, I just can’t sit idly by and not speak out against what I believe is a policy that is detrimental to our community and to our families here in Angelina County,” he said.
Paul Dutton, Jim Jordan and Kenneth McGee were manning the southwest corner of the entrance. The trio said those driving by were supportive, either giving a thumbs-up or a honk and a wave.
“We’re just letting (passers by) know our position,” Jim Jordan said. “Hopefully people will get the idea.”
The trio held up sings with the messages: “We Don’t Want Men in the Ladies’ Room;” “Boys go to Boy’s … Girls go to Girl’s … Common Sense;” and “Keep Our Children Safe.”
The Coles had signs that read: “Target Keep Our Women and Children Safe” and “Just Because It’s Policy Doesn’t Make it Right.”
A mother and her children had signs that read: “(Target logo)-ing our Children; and “I don’t feel safe in (Target logo).”
The local Target store manager had no comment.
However, the corporate office issued a statement April 19: “We stand for equality and equity, and strive to make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day. We believe that everyone — every team member, every guest and every community — deserves to be protected from discrimination and treated equally. Consistent with this belief, Target supports the federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBT individuals and opposes action that enables discrimination.”