Target CEO Brian Cornell has publicly responded to the boycotts over its bathroom policy. Last month, the giant retail chain released a statement saying its customers were free to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. It was praised by many as a significant move to support transgender people after North Carolina passed a law saying people must use bathrooms that correspond with the gender they were born with.
After Target released its own statement, a religious nonprofit called American Family Association started an online petition asking people to boycott the chain. It now has more than 1.2 million signatures and says:
"This means a man can simply say he 'feels like a woman today' and enter the women's restroom . . . even if young girls or women are already in there. Target's policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims."
On an episode of CNBC's Squawk Box, Cornell responded to the backlash, saying, "We took a stance, and we're going to continue to embrace our belief of diversity and inclusion, and just how important that is to our company. But we're also going to make sure our focus on safety is unwavering."
He added that the company has a long history of embracing diversity, pointing to when it was one of the first retailers to feature African American models in advertising campaigns in the 1960s. It also received backlash back then.
"But sitting here today, we know we made the right decision," he said. Cornell's comments came before the Obama administration told all public schools this morning they must let students use the bathroom of their choice or risk losing federal funding.