A recent incident at a Target store in Massachusetts is just another reason voters there are being urged to vote next week for repeal of that state's controversial bathroom and locker room law.
On Tuesday (November 6), voters in The Bay State will decide whether to repeal a 2016 law that allows a person – even a sex offender – to claim any gender, regardless of anatomy, and use the bathroom or locker room facility based on the claimed gender. The ballot question is the third item on the ballot, which asks voters whether they approve of the law.
On October 16, a mother and her children went to a Target in Woburn, Massachusetts, to do some shopping. While inside the store, the mother's 10-year-old daughter entered the women's restroom where a man later offered her candy, commented on her clothing, and reportedly tried to get into the stall that the little girl was using.
"Now, she's terrified – but she got out of there and fortunately, she was unharmed," says Andrew Beckwith of Keep MA Safe, a group urging people to vote No on 3. "She told her parents, they called the police and investigators were able to ultimately identify this guy from the security footage at the store."
According to New Boston Post, police spoke with the man and he claimed to identify as a woman.
"That means that the law [in Massachusetts] protects his right to be in that bathroom – and as the police say, per this new article in the New Boston Post, on 'October 16th we responded to a call of suspicious activity at the Woburn Target, we identified and spoke with all identified parties, an investigation was initiated, the information currently available to us indicates that there may have been no crime committed,'" Beckwith points out. "Again, [this] article identifies the man in that women's bathroom as an adult biological male who identifies as a woman."
It is here that Beckwith says he sees problems.
"First, he's in there to begin with and who knows what he's doing," Beckwith explains. "At a minimum he has terrified this 10-year-old girl – and fortunately she is safe – but now the police can't really do anything about it. Their hands are tied because of this law [because] it gives him a right to be in there as long as he claims to identify as a woman."
If the parents had complained to store management - and had management prevented the man from going into the women's restroom in order to protect the privacy and safety of all its customers, Beckwith says Target would be susceptible for up to a $50,000 fine.
Beckwith adds that if this was his daughter and he tried to stop the man from entering the bathroom, he could go to jail for up to a year, according to the law that's up for repeal next Tuesday.
"I don't think it mattered to that 10-year-old girl how that man may or may not have identified," Beckwith concludes. "She was terrified – and this law allows him to be in there."
The ACLU and Human Rights Campaign-backed Freedom for All Massachusetts says the law is about inclusivity and preventing discrimination of the transgender community. But Keep MA Safe argues that sexual predators can and will take advantage of the law, putting women and children at risk.
"We haven't exactly gotten a fair shake when it comes to mainstream media," says Keep MA Safe spokeswoman Yvette Ollada. "They are now editorializing and making things up as they go, or calling [us] to 'get the other side.' But really they just do it as a gesture and don't even represent anything that our side says."
Blog posts, press releases, and news clips have been launched from both sides of the debate in their efforts to raise more funds for their respective campaigns.