Beware of Target Bathrooms

July 20

By Stephanie Curry, Esq., policy manager for Family Policy Alliance®

A new and original study, authored by Woman Means Something, has been released showing that reported sexual offenses have risen significantly since Target changed their bathroom policy to be “gender inclusive”.

It’s no surprise that when men have access to women’s and girls’ bathrooms, sexual incidences will increase.

This is one of the reasons Family Policy Alliance fights “Bathroom Bills,” which legally allow men (who identify as transgender) into women’s bathrooms and locker rooms. We fight against these policies because we believe the safety and privacy of women and children are at risk. This new study concludes that this is indeed true.

Woman Means Something used Target’s new bathroom policy to analyze the incidences of sexual- predatory behavior reported in Target bathrooms. In April of 2016, Target changed its bathroom policy from having female-only bathrooms and male-only bathrooms to a “gender-inclusive” policy. This meant men, who said they were women, could enter women’s bathrooms (and vice versa). The study authors analyzed media-reported offenses before and after the policy change.

The top sexual offenses the study tracked were upskirt incidences, Peeping Tom incidences (voyeurism), and men exposing their bodies to women. The study tracked over 200 reported incidences between 2003 and 2017 from Target bathrooms. The study showed that “women and children comprised 99.1% of victims in the offenses,” 34% of those being children.

The graph below clearly shows the increase in reported incidences after Target changed and implemented new bathroom policies throughout its stores across the nation.

Source: Women Means Something “A Longitudinal Analysis of Media Reports at Target Stores,”

The most likely reason for this increase, study authors concluded, “is that Target’s policy signaled to sexual offenders that voyeuristic offenses would be easier to perpetrate in [Target] stores than elsewhere”. It is certainly not conclusive that people who identify as transgender are more likely to commit sexual offenses. But what is true, according to the study, is “gender-inclusive bathroom polices” attract sexual predators.

Study authors explained that sexual offenders actually do care about signs on bathroom doors. Offenders will assess the risks and benefits of committing a sexual offense and choose their environments carefully. When deciding whether to peep at women (for example), a sex-offender likely concludes that bathrooms that are gender-inclusive are more “friendly” to accommodate their crime.

“Gender- Inclusive” bathroom signs imply the presence of men is permissible and desirable in women’s spaces. These signs are seen as an “invitation,” by people who are already sexual predators, to offend. Without the sign, the predator may have chosen not to offend in that particular bathroom. Target’s policy also makes it more likely sexual offenders will choose Target stores as opposed to another store that does not have an open bathroom policy.

Perhaps most importantly, the study authors declare bathroom policies like Target’s “bring about increased harm to women and children”. And the harm is even greater when states are passing policies that require all public bathrooms to be gender inclusive.

This is why Family Policy Alliance and our state allies work tirelessly to protect the safety of women and children by fighting for their right to sex-specific vulnerable spaces, like bathrooms and locker rooms. Last year, you probably saw the battle North Carolina Family Policy Council successfully fought in keeping their public bathrooms from being open to both sexes. Other state allies like Center for Arizona Policy, Florida Family Policy Council, and The Family Foundation in Virginia have also successfully fought off their state legislatures from opening bathrooms to anyone.

With your help we can continue to partner with state allies to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of women and children in bathrooms!

To read the full study click here.