Following in the controversial footsteps of retailers like Target, Walgreens announced its new transgender-friendly company bathroom policy. The clarified policy will allow employees and customers to use whichever restroom corresponds to their "gender identity, regardless of the individual's sex assigned at birth." Their official memo explains, "The intent of this policy is to support transgender individuals in our stores and facilities and foster an environment of inclusion and mutual respect."
A recent press release from the ACLU's Southern California chapter indicates that Walgreens shifted the policy after one of its stores denied use of the women's restroom to Jessie Meehan, a biological woman whom a store employee described as looking like a man. According to KTLA, the store manager said it was their policy to restrict bathroom access "based on a customer's appearance." Although a different manager later disputed that and insisted that there was no such policy, Meehan was still forced to use the men's restroom.
After Meehan went to the ACLU with her story, Amanda Goad, staff attorney for ACLU SoCal, reached out to Walgreens to develop the new policy.
"Everyone needs safe restroom access, and California law protects every person's right to access restrooms based on their gender identity in workplaces, schools, and business establishments," Goad said. "It's important for businesses to make sure their employees understand that requirement, just like Walgreens is now doing, because Jessie Meehan had the courage to stand up for her rights."
Walgreens is already well known for its LGBT-friendly stance and was listed as one of the Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality 2017 by the Human Rights Campaign. Though this has actually been Walgreens' bathroom policy since late 2017, their recent attempt to clarify the policy could have consequences akin to the massive controversy ignited after Target announced its new bathroom policies in 2016.