Oxford, Ala., Fights Target Bathroom Policy With Anti-LGBT Law

by | April 29, 2016 AT 11:40 AM

By Zach Tyler

The City Council on Tuesday made it illegal for anyone to use a public bathroom that doesn't align with the gender they were born with.

The new law, approved unanimously by the council's members, restricts a person's use of public bathrooms and changing rooms to the facilities designated for use by those of the gender listed on his or her birth certificate. The law applies within both the city's limits and police jurisdiction.

After members approved the new city ordinance, Council President Steven Waits read from a prepared statement.

Waits said he and the council sought the law "not out of concerns for the 0.3 percent of the population who identify as transgender," but "to protect our women and children."

He said the measure isn't meant to be discriminatory, and comes in direct response to the bathroom and changing-room usage policy put forth by supermarket chain Target, which has a store at Oxford's Exchange shopping center.

The company posted that policy in a blog on its website last week, referencing "recent debate around proposed laws in several states."

That debate has been heated in North Carolina, where news outlets report that scores of protesters have been arrested this week while demonstrating for or against a statewide law that extends similar restroom restrictions.

"We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity," read the company's post, put online last Tuesday.

Waits said he's received an "overwhelming" number of complaints from city residents regarding the company's policy since it was announced.

Under the new law, alleged violations must be reported by a witness or committed in front of a police officer to be prosecutable.

Those found to have violated the law would be fined $500, or sentenced to six months in jail.

There are some exceptions to the new rule, though: Adults are allowed to accompany children under the age of 12 into the restroom. Those who need to do janitorial or maintenance work, to offer emergency medical assistance, or to assist the disabled, likewise are permitted to enter any bathroom.

(c)2016 The Anniston Star (Anniston, Ala.)