Walgreens announced a new company-wide policy to allow employees and customers to use whichever restroom corresponds "to the individual's gender identity, regardless of the individual's sex assigned at birth."
The 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."
According to a press release from the ACLU's Southern California (ACLU SoCal) chapter, Walgreens shifted the policy after one of its stores denied usage of the women's restroom to Jessie Meehan, a biological woman whom the store clerk described as looking like a man. KTLA says the store manager said it was store policy to restrict bathroom access "based on a customer's appearance." Later, a different manager disputed that, insisting there was no such policy. Either way, Meehan was forced to use the men's restroom.
She told her story to the ACLU. 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' attempt to clarify the policy could have consequences. In April 2016, Target adopted a similar policy, sparking massive controversy.
Walgreens is already known for its LGBT-friendly stance. Human Rights Campaign named Walgreen Co. one of its Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality 2017.
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