Major news outlets have largely failed to identify the American Family Association (AFA) -- the group organizing a boycott of Target over its transgender inclusive restroom policy -- as an anti-LGBT “hate group,” often only referring to the group as a “Christian” or “conservative” organization.
The Anti-Gay “Hate Group” American Family Association Is Boycotting Target Over Its Transgender Inclusive Bathroom Policy
Target Announced Transgender Inclusive Restroom Policy. On April 19, the Target Corporation released a statement welcoming transgender employees and customers to use bathrooms that match their gender identity:
Recent debate around proposed laws in several states has reignited a national conversation around inclusivity. So earlier this week, we reiterated with our team members where Target stands and how our beliefs are brought to life in how we serve our guests.
Inclusivity is a core belief at Target. It’s something we celebrate. 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.
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. [Target.com, 4/19/16]
American Family Association Launched A Pledge Boycotting Target. On April 20, the American Family Association (AFA) launched a “Boycott Target Pledge” in response to Target’s transgender inclusive policy. As of April 26, the pledge has more than 700,000 signatures. [American Family Association, 4/20/16]
AFA Has Been Designated An Anti-LGBT “Hate Group.” The AFA has been designated an anti-LGBT “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2010 due to its history of anti-gay extremism and propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people, including blaming gay men for the Holocaust, supporting criminalization of gay sex, and asserting that being gay is a “poor and dangerous choice.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 4/26/16; 11/4/10]
AFA Has A History Of Boycotting Companies That Support The So-Called “Homosexual Agenda.” The AFA has long boycotted TV shows and companies that support LGBT equality, which AFA has traditionally termed the “homosexual agenda.” Previously, AFA has called for boycotts of The Walt Disney Company, the Ford Motor Company, Walmart and its subsidiary Sam’s Club, and The Home Depot. During the boycott of Home Depot in 2010, AFA said the home repair store was “deliberately exposing children to lascivious displays of sexual conduct by homosexuals" by supporting pride parades. [RightWingWatch, November 2006; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 4/26/16]
Major Media Outlets Largely Fail To Expose AFA’s Extremism And “Hate Group” Designation
Reuters, Forbes, And Business Insider Identified AFA As A “Conservative” Group. Reuters, Forbes, and Business Insider all identified AFA as simply a “conservative” organization boycotting Target. [Forbes, 4/23/16; Reuters, 4/22/16; Business Insider 4/22/16]
TIME And MSNBC Called AFA A “Conservative Christian” Group. Both TIME magazine and MSNBC.com labeled AFA a “conservative Christian group” in reporting on the boycott. [TIME, 4/25/16; MSNBC.com, 4/22/16]
USA Today: AFA Is A “Nonprofit” And “Conservative Christian Activist Group.” USA Today described AFA as both a “conservative Christian activist group” and a Mississippi-based nonprofit that promotes “what it considers traditional family values.” [USA Today, 4/26/16]
Fortune Identified AFA As A “Conservative Christian Advocacy” Group. Reporting on the backlash to Target’s policy from “traditionalists,” Fortune called AFA a “conservative Christian advocacy group.” [Fortune, 4/22/16]
NPR And The Washington Post Did Identify AFA’s Extremism. Both NPR and The Washington Post noted that AFA has been labeled an “extremist” organization with an anti-LGBT ideology, though neither included the “hate group” label. [NPR, 4/25/16; The Washington Post, 4/26/16]