Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD
USA Today featured an op-ed by the president of anti-LGBT hate group American Family Association (AFA), who attacked Target's LGBT nondiscrimination policy for restrooms by peddling the widely debunked "bathroom predator" myth. USA Today failed to identify AFA as a recognized hate group to its readers.
On May 2, USA Today published an op-ed by AFA President Tim Wildmon, titled "Why you should boycott Target," which was written in response to the editorial board’s opposition to laws that “perpetuate the myth that transgender people are predators.” AFA is the group responsible for launching a boycott against Target over the store's policy of allowing transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. In the column, Wildmon criticized Target's nondiscrimination policy, peddling the widely debunked myth that there is “potential danger” when men are able to access the women’s room:
For the entirety of its history until recently, Target had bathrooms and fitting rooms designated for men and for women.
Why? Why the distinction by Target and every other retailer in every civilized country?
The answers are twofold and quite simple. First, the vast majority of people are uncomfortable using the bathroom while a stranger of the opposite sex is present. Second, most people understand the potential danger inherent in allowing men access to women and children in a private setting — where harassment, voyeurism or even abuse can occur.
Wildmon also questioned the motives of transgender people, saying that they only want to "make a point" by using a restroom that aligns with their gender identity:
Of course, there is a simple solution to this controversy for Target. Gender-specific facilities (men’s bathrooms/fitting rooms, women’s bathrooms/fitting rooms) would be maintained, and a single-occupancy, unisex option would be provided for the transgendered community. As someone has recently noted, a transgendered man, for example, who walks past a unisex restroom in order to enter the woman’s bathroom is not primarily interested in relieving himself. He wants to make a point.
Like many other media outlets reporting on the Target boycott, USA Today failed to identify AFA as a hate group to its readers, even while giving the group a national platform. The AFA has been designated an anti-LGBT “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to its history of anti-gay extremism, including blaming gay men for the Holocaust, supporting criminalization of gay sex, and asserting that being gay is a “poor and dangerous choice."