Target CEO responds to backlash over transgender bathroom policy

Target CEO Brian Cornell is speaking out after 1.2 million people signed a petition boycotting the company over its transgender bathroom policy.

Cornell appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” where he confirmed that the company will not be reversing its policy.

The retail giant released their pledge last month, stating any transgender individual shopping at Target can use whichever bathroom corresponds with their gender identity. Target’s original pledge stated:

“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.

In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”

Cornell referenced the civil rights movement of the 1960s and reminded everyone that Target was one of the first companies to use African American models in their advertisements.

“And back then, you know, it wasn’t well received,” Cornell said about those ads. “We had a lot of tough feedback, but sitting here today, we know we made the right decision.”

Another reason for the policy is that the safety in their stores remains a top priority, according to Cornell.

“We took a stance, and we’re going to continue to embrace our belief of 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,” Cornell said.

The online petition against Target was led by the American Family Association, who claims on their website that they met with Target asking them to create a unisex bathroom “for the trans community and for those who simply like using the bathroom alone.”

“Target representatives were gracious and respectful, but sadly, they rejected our offer,” the statement read.