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1 million sign petition to boycott Target over transgender bathrooms

Posted at 11:09 PM, Apr 30, 2016

A flurry of policies affecting transgender people has swept the country in recent weeks, leading to widespread protests, economic losses and a growing debate about equality and privacy.

Most recently, an Alabama city passed a law saying if people use a public bathroom that doesn't match their biological sex, they could face six months in jail.

With new rules and new challenges every week, it can be difficult to stay on top of developments. Here's the latest on transgender laws and policies across the country:

Alabama city sets criminal penalties

Transgender people in Oxford, Alabama, could now face six months in jail for using restrooms labeled for the gender they identify with.

The ordinance, passed by the Oxford City Council this week, says people in public restrooms "do not reasonably expect to be exposed to individuals of the opposite sex while utilizing those facilities."

"The Council further asserts that single sex public facilities are places of increased vulnerability and present the potential for crimes against individuals utilizing those facilities which may include, but not limited to, voyeurism, exhibitionism, molestation and assault and battery," the ordinance states.

The law does not explicitly mention transgender people, but the Human Rights Campaign slammed it as "anti-transgender."

"This anti-transgender law is unprecedented in its establishment of criminal penalties for violations of the law, and raises a myriad of privacy and legal concerns, including questions about how the law will be enforced," HRC said in a statement.

Fallout over North Carolina 'bathroom bill'

No state has seen more backlash over a transgender law than North Carolina, which passed a law requiring people to use public bathrooms matching their biological sex.

The rock group Boston joined a chorus of other bands and musicians, including Pearl Jam, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas and Bruce Springsteen, who canceled upcoming concerts in North Carolina to protest the law, known as HB2.

"HB2 has the appearance of an oppressive discriminatory law against a small minority, who already have to deal with a narrow-minded world regarding issues beyond their control which they did nothing to bring upon themselves," Boston founder Tom Scholz wrote.

Even PayPal nixed its plans to open a new global operations center in Charlotte, costing North Carolina about 400 future jobs.

Protesters aren't letting up. A petition with 150,000 signatures reached the state Capitol on Sunday. And police arrested more than 50 demonstrators at the North Carolina state house on Monday who were accused of "building violations" and staying in the building after hours.

Democratic state Rep. Darren Jackson is on their side. This week, he filed a bill, HB 946, that would repeal the controversial law.

Virginia teen wins federal case, sets precedent

A Virginia teen won a battle against his school board for the right to use the boys' bathroom, setting a precedent for any student who might challenge North Carolina's "bathroom bill" law.

That's because the teen won his case in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals -- which also covers North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and West Virginia.

The teen, Gavin Grimm, claimed that the Gloucester County School Board violated Title IX, a law banning sex discrimination in schools, when the board prevented him from using boys' restrooms.

South Carolina student considers legal action

A transgender high school student was suspended for a day in January after a teacher followed him to the bathroom to make sure he used "the right one," the teen told CNN this week.

The high school senior went into the boys' bathroom. He had used boys' bathrooms since the seventh grade without incident, but school administrators had recently told him to use the girls' restroom or the nurse's bathroom.

The student was months away from graduation but decided to take online classes instead of returning to school for fear of being "outed." He's now threatening legal action against Horry County Schools.

Target aims for equality

The retail giant Target said that in its stores, transgender people are free to use whichever restroom they feel comfortable with.

"We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity," the company said.

"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."

But in Minnesota, where Target is headquartered, a Republican state senator has proposed a bill that would restrict access to restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms based on "biological sex."

And the conservative American Family Association launched a petition calling for a boycott of Target. That petition now has more than 1,107,100 signatures.

Do you support the boycott? Weigh in on the WTVR CBS 6 Facebook page.

GOP candidates weigh in

North Carolina's governor might be a Republican, but that didn't stop GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump from lambasting his state's new law.

"North Carolina did something that was very strong, and they're paying a big price, and there's a lot of problems," Trump told NBC's "Today" show.

Trump said last week he'd have no problem with a transgender person walking into Trump Tower and using any restroom he or she prefers.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, in turn, fired on Trump.

"He thought that men should be able to go into the girls' bathrooms if they want to," Cruz said. "Grown adult men -- strangers -- should not be alone in a bathroom with little girls. And that's not conservative. That's not Republican or Democrat. That's basic common sense."

NCAA requirements

Meanwhile, the NCAA announced steps to protect participants and spectators from discrimination at its championship events.

Under new requirements, it will demand sites seeking to host championship events show how they will ensure an environment is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.

Next year's NCAA championships will be held in Phoenix (men's basketball) and Tampa, Florida (football).