Advertisement
  1. News

Video in St. Petersburg Target goes viral after man confronts employees over bathroom policy

UPDATE: Since this story was first published, the video has been removed from YouTube.

———

ST. PETERSBURG — Andy Park wanted to see if a man could get into the woman's restroom at Target.

The retailer's "inclusive" restroom policy — allowing people to use whatever restroom corresponds with their gender identity — has been under fire since last week. It's a small flare-up in a larger firestorm around new laws banning transgender people from bathrooms that don't match the sex on their birth certificate.

Park, 57, hid a camera phone in his shirt pocket, went to the Target a quarter mile from his home and asked employees there if he could use the women's restroom.

He posted the video, which went viral.

As of early Thursday morning, Park removed the video from YouTube and Facebook.

Before he did, many people who watched and shared it assumed Park is on the anti side of LGBT rights.

The St. Petersburg man insists that's not true. In fact, he's a member of the LGBT community.

He's gay.

He said he made the video — which had nearly 2 million views by Wednesday afternoon — to prove Target's policy is overly broad and could allow men with bad intentions into women's bathrooms. But he doesn't think transgender people should be kept out of the bathrooms they want to use.

"I'm not the person people think I am," he told the Tampa Bay Times. "I'm not a Bible thumper. I'm a gay man who has transgender friends."

Park says he wanted to make the video after he read that Target was allowing men to use the women's restroom. He didn't expect anyone outside his friends would care to watch it.

The video shows him walking into the store and approaching a man at guest services. He asks if he can use the women's restroom.

"Sometimes, I get uncomfortable in the men's room," he told the employee. "I just wanted to make sure I'm allowed to go in the women's room."

The employee refers him to someone in security.

Park confirms with the security worker that he can go in the women's restroom, posing the same question he did to the other employee. Park also has that employee reaffirm to him that any woman who has concerns with Park's use of the bathroom can speak to staff.

Park never films inside any bathroom; the video cut off after his conversation with employees.

Target, for its part, says it's committed to letting all customers have a comfortable experience in its stores.

"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 wrote on its blog last week.

The store's reiteration of its policy prompted more than 900,000 people to sign a boycott petition.

Much of the conversation swirling around bathrooms comes after North Carolina passed a law that requires people use the restroom that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate — regardless of their gender.

Many who oppose the Target policy support North Carolina's law.

Not Park.

He said anyone living as a woman, for example, should use the women's restroom.

"This is nothing against trans people," he said of his video. "I'm just someone who strongly believes we have to look after people who can't look after themselves, like the very young or the very old."

He doesn't want a man going into a women's restroom unchecked, he said.

A Target spokeswoman released this statement in response to the video: "We certainly respect that there are a wide variety of perspectives and opinions. As a company that firmly stands behind what it means to offer our team an inclusive place to work — and our guests an inclusive place to shop — we continue to believe that this is the right thing for Target."

As of Thursday morning, 958,779 people had signed the Christian group American Family Association's petition opposing Target's policy.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3400. Follow @sara_dinatale.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement