Target faces backlash after removing Pride merchandise


WASHINGTON ( — Target released its annual Pride collection in early May ahead of Pride month in June but removed several items from shelves due to backlash from angry customers.

Target showcases its support of Pride in Hackensack, N.J.,with a rainbow tag attached to merchandise.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Target stated that it removed goods or in some cases, moved Pride merchandise to the back of the store due to employee safety concerns. This came after disgruntled customers were recording themselves knocking down Pride displays and making angry comments to employees about the merchandise. 

“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and wellbeing while at work,” Target said in a written statement on Tuesday. “Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans.”

Many activist organizations that advocate for LGBTQ+ rights have expressed their disapproval of Target and urged the retailer to stand firm against opposition.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a LGBTQ+ advocacy group, released a press statement disavowing Target’s decision.

“When it comes to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, there is no such thing as neutrality,” the statement said. “We’re calling on Target to release a public statement in the next 24 hours reaffirming their commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, put Pride merchandise back on the sales floor and online in full, and ensure safety of team members who are on the front lines.”

Pride merchandise featured in a Nashville, Tenn. target. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Target has sported Pride merchandise in their stores for 10 years and has partnered with LGBTQ+ organizations such as GLSEN even longer, but due to the relevancy of the anti-LGBTQ+ violence and rhetoric, Target felt the need to pull back.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, almost 500 bills targeting LGBTQ+ rights were introduced in state legislatures since the beginning of this year, many of which focus on gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

One of the items that Target removed from its Pride collection was a swimsuit with “extra crotch coverage” and had “tuck-friendly coverage.” Several false claims arose alleging that the swimsuit was part of the children’s collection, which led to outrage amongst conservative media supporters.

Target plans to move forward by, “continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year.”

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