Megyn Kelly slams Starbucks for its new open bathroom policy

  • Megyn Kelly criticized Starbucks' decision to open its bathrooms to all people.

  • "Do you really want to deal with a mass of homeless people or whoever is in there — could be drug addicted, you don't know — when you're there with your kids?" Kelly said on her NBC show.

  • Starbucks recently announced that all people could visit and use the bathrooms at the chain's locations without making any purchases.

Not everyone is pleased by Starbucks' decision to allow anyone to use its bathrooms.

On her show, "Megyn Kelly Today," the NBC host criticized Starbucks' new policy to open its bathrooms to all, even those who aren't buying anything. Starbucks, which is closing all of its locations in the United States on Tuesday afternoon for anti-bias training, recently announced that people would no longer have to pay to hang out in or use the bathrooms at Starbucks locations.

In a clip of Kelly's show posted by online news organization Raw Story, Kelly highlighted people's criticism of the new policy, saying that paying customers were complaining about Starbucks stores becoming a public space. Jenna Bush Hager, who was a guest on the show, pushed back on concerns regarding the new policy.

"It's not a solution," for homelessness, Bush Hager said, "but it's also compassionate. It's also showing kindness to people."

Kelly replied: "Do you really want to deal with a mass of homeless people or whoever is in there — could be drug addicted, you don't know — when you're there with your kids?"

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

A spokesperson for Kelly did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for further comment.

Kelly isn't the only person to criticize Starbucks' new policy. Last week, Daniel Henninger wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed with the headline "Starbucks' Homeless Problem."

"On instinct, Starbucks decided it could also be a homeless shelter. But then the social-media monitors vetoed that. What the Starbucks crucible makes clear is ... you can't win," Henninger wrote. "No matter what you do to try to appease the progressive zeitgeist, it will always be wrong."

What the changes actually mean

Practically speaking, many Starbucks locations have always had an open-door policy for most customers, with employees rarely preventing visitors from using the restrooms. However, some people have been excluded from the open bathroom norm. Those excluded tend to be black customers and people whom employees believe to be homeless.

Starbucks leadership has emphasized that the new policies are meant to address race. Having concrete policies in place, executives say, is a way to deal with implicit biases that some managers and employees may not realize they have, therefore making Starbucks more welcoming for all.

However, the bigger sticking point may be how the new policies impact homeless people. Starbucks has long been a welcome haven for people who are homeless for the same reason it is enjoyed by anyone looking for a place to rest their feet. It has free WiFi and ample seating, and the staff will not kick you out. Now, in most situations, the staff cannot kick you out — a marked change in how Starbucks has dealt with some homeless customers in the past.

In 2016, three Starbucks locations in parts of Los Angeles with large homeless populations closed their bathrooms to customers and non-customers to discourage homeless people from visiting to use the restrooms and free WiFi. In 2007, a woman was thrown out of a Starbucks because management thought she was homeless.

If the new policies had been in place, neither of these incidents would have happened. Instead, with the new training on Tuesday, employees will be both encouraged and required to be inclusive in a way that goes against the grain in the chain-restaurant industry.

Will Starbucks actually feel different? That remains to be seen. But, you can't discount new policies' potential for shifting Starbucks' environment — for better or for worse — just yet.

Here's the full clip from Kelly's show:

Read more about Starbucks' closures: