HERSHEY, Pa. — A Pennsylvania amusement park that is a popular attraction for families with children has announced that its internal policies allow visitors and employees to use the restroom that correlates with their “gender identity.”
Hersheypark officials released a statement on Friday outlining that its restroom accommodations have already been in place and will continue.
“We recognize that the more perspectives we have within our company, the more welcoming we are to all those who visit and seek employment here,” said Public Relations Manager Kathy Burrows. “In fact, our company has four core values, one of which is ‘respectful of others,’ which we define as treating all people with dignity, while respecting their differences and ideas.”
“For decades, Hersheypark has been dedicated to the safety and security of our guest and employees. It is foundational to our brand,” she continued. “Additionally, the Park has and will always strive to accommodate all guests and employees—including members of the LGBT community—to ensure those visiting or working at Hersheypark are comfortable and feel secure.”
Burrows then outlined that visitors and employees may therefore use whichever restroom correlates with their gender identity, or may use a family restroom if they prefer.
“To that end, the park will continue its practice of treating all guests and employees the same no matter race, ethnicity, sexual identity, etc.,” she said. “Guests and employees may continue to use the restrooms with which they gender-identify, or are welcome to use the many family restrooms available across the destination.”
Reaction to the announcement has been mixed, with some praising Hershey’s policy and others threatening not to frequent the famed amusement park.
“Hershey has stood behind the philosophy of diversity and inclusion for many years and you’re just learning about this now in light of recent events. I am a former employee in administration and this is nothing new. Has it negatively impacted your life in any way before? Don’t expect much to change now,” wrote commenter Toni Arnette under PennLive’s report of the matter.
“As a former Milton Hershey student, I can guarantee you you that Mr. Hershey would not approve of this being allowed to go on,” commenter Keith Stevens opined. “What gender God created you is what bathroom you should be using. This nation was built upon morals and biblical principles, which is exactly why this nation became the most powerful and wealthiest in the world ever, and our government has been slowly destroying it.”
Michael Geer, the president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, likewise relayed that the national discussion on restroom use has generated much concern.
“Ultimately, what this Hershey policy and what Target’s policies and what these laws are saying is anybody can have access to any restroom they want based on what they think is in their head,” he told local television station WHTM. “Most people that we talk to, especially women, are very concerned about who is going to come in behind them.”
“To go this far, following pressure from outside groups, I think it will cause many families to wonder if Hersheypark is going to be on their destination list this year,” he said.
But Andy Hoover, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said that he thought the policy would actually be beneficial for business.
“Businesses recognize that to be competitive they have to be welcoming and open to everyone, and that’s exactly what Hersheypark is doing here,” he said.