Targeting Target: Eastern Idaho Protest Sparks More Bathroom Debate 

  • Tombe / public domain / creative commons

The issue of who uses what public bathroom continues to spark debate across the nation, including in Idaho. 

In mid-May, President Barack Obama issued a directive stating any public school that accepts federal funds must allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. At a town hall event June 1, Obama said the decision is based on law and the directive was requested by school districts seeking guidance on the issue from the U.S. Department of Education.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and much of the state's congregational delegation joined a GOP chorus opposing the move, saying it was an example of executive overreach. This past weekend, the Idaho Republican Party's Resolution Committee adopted a measure rejecting the White House's transgender directive, but the full convention was unable to muster a two-thirds majority to adopt any of this year's resolutions, thus reverting to the previous years' party platform planks.

Now the debate over public restrooms has spilled into the private sector, as a series of protests swirled around retail giant Target, which earlier said it wanted its stores to feel "more inclusive to both employees and customers."

In April, Target owners said they wanted "transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity." In response, the right-wing American Family Association has staged a series of protests at Target stores across the U.S.

KIFI-TV reports an eastern Idaho chapter of Faith2Action protested June 4 outside a Target store in Ammon on what it called, "Don't Target Our Daughters Day."

"It's not right to force this kind of restroom policy on people," protester Peggy Merkle told KIFI-TV. "I have a 13-year-old daughter and she doesn't want to go into any restrooms hardly at all by herself."

The White House said the directive came as the U.S. Justice Department continues to battle North Carolina in federal court over a state law that prohibits people from using public restrooms not corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate. Other state legislatures have indicated they're weighing similar measures.

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