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Planet Fitness faces boycott calls from outraged conservatives

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Conservative social media users are calling for a boycott of Planet Fitness after reports of a 2023 incident involving a man who allegedly exposed himself to a 15-year-old while in a women’s locker room.

Context

In September 2023, a 15-year-old was inside the women’s locker room of Planet Fitness in Monroe, Georgia, when she said a naked biological male had exposed himself to her, according to the Monroe Police Department. Jakorbie Dixon, 25, of Conyers, was arrested in connection to the incident on “multiple warrants for public indecency by exposing himself in the female locker room,” the department said in a statement.

Not long after Dixon’s arrest, the teen’s family filed a lawsuit against Planet Fitness over the incident, Bart Benton, the attorney representing the teen’s family, announced in a statement on September 15. Benton claims that the fitness chain was aware of Dixon’s alleged lewd behavior before exposing himself to the teenager.

“We are committed to holding Planet Fitness accountable for its actions,” Benton said in the statement. “Our early investigation has revealed that Planet Fitness knew and was on notice of this type of behavior from the perpetrator but chose to ignore his prior conduct of exposing himself to females in the women’s locker room because he ‘identified’ as a female. This type of behavior is completely unacceptable, and we will fight for justice for our client and make sure that Planet Fitness takes steps to prevent this from happening again.”

The gym chain had already been facing days of criticism over a separate incident involving a man inside a women’s locker room in the presence of a child.

Planet Fitness has been facing mounting scrutiny after initially coming under over a decision last week to cancel the membership of an Alaskan customer who reported a “man in women’s locker room shaving” while a 12-year-old girl was present. A spokesperson for Planet Fitness told local media that the customer took an image of a person inside a locker room, which violates the company’s mobile device policy and goes against the gym’s “judgment-free” rules.

Newsweek reached out via email on Sunday to the Monroe Police Department, Benton and Planet Fitness for comment.

What We Know

On Sunday, the right-wing social media account Libs of TikTok posted on X, formerly Twitter, about the 2023 incident at the Monroe Planet Fitness, igniting a fresh wave of outrage and criticism over the company’s locker room and gender identity policies.

Planet Fitness, on its website, says that it champions diversity and provides an environment “where everyone feels accepted, respected and like they belong.”

The website lists the fitness company’s non-discrimination policy regarding gender identity and locker room accommodations, which states in part: “Members and team members will be treated according to their self-reported gender identity.” The policy also addresses locker room usage and says that staff and gym members “may use Planet Fitness locker room facilities and programs based on their self-reported gender identity; these facilities include bathrooms, showers, and all other facilities separated by sex.”

The policy notes that if “a serious concern or significant doubt” about a person’s transgender or nonbinary identity arises, Planet Fitness employees are encouraged to address their concerns with the club member. If that fails to resolve the concerns, staff may request “external evidence of the member’s asserted gender identity.” If a gym member “improperly asserts a gender identity,” they may be asked to leave and their membership may be revoked, according to the fitness chain’s policy.

People exercise at Planet Fitness. The company has come under fire over its transgender bathroom policy.

Don EMMERT / AFP/Getty

Views

The topic “boycott Planet Fitness” was trending on X for hours on Sunday, with multiple social media users calling for a boycott of the gym chain.

Libs of TikTok’s blasted Planet Fitness on X, writing: “This isn’t the first time Planet Fitness got caught up in a controversy like this. A man in Georgia exposed himself to a minor in the women’s locker room. He had reportedly done it before. They didn’t do anything cuz he identified as a woman. #BoycottPlanetFitness.”

The post amassed more than 8,700 likes and nearly 400 comments on Sunday.

In another post, the controversial X account posted: “They allow men in women’s locker rooms and will terminate your membership if you complain about it!”

X owner Elon Musk replied to the Libs of TikTok thread, writing: “Doesn’t sound safe for women.”

Paul A. Szypula posted on X: “Women don’t want men in their bathrooms. Shame on Planet Fitness for forcing women to be subjected to the discomfort and harassment of having men in their bathrooms. No man or woman who respects women should want to be a member of such a gym. #BoycottPlanetFitness.”

TammyLeeBlosser posted on X: “People who care for women’s safety and rights should cancel their memberships! go woke go broke.”

Despite the growing boycott calls, some conservative social media users defended Planet Fitness.

Buck Lawson wrote on X: “I’m a conservative and use planet fitness. While I am not defending their corporate policies, I am defending my local franchise. Men have been literally removed from women’s spaces and in extreme cases the police have been called. The bathrooms are clearly marked male and female.”