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LGBTQ+ leaders "deeply concerned" by Target removing Pride merch as workers face violent threats

LGBTQ+ leaders voice concerns as Target pulls some Pride merch following threats
LGBTQ+ leaders voice concerns as Target pulls some Pride merch following threats 02:12

MINNEAPOLIS -- Just days before the start of Pride month, there has been a change in what you can buy in the Pride section at Target. The company chose to pull some items because of attacks made toward team members.

For more than ten years Target has shown its support of the LGBTQ+ community with its Pride month displays. Target says since introducing this year's collection, it's experienced threats impacting team members' sense of safety and well-being. There have been violent confrontations that have forced Target to take action to keep employees safe.

In a statement, a Target spokesperson said, "Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior."

Outfront Minnesota Executive Director Kat Rohn says this backlash is one example of what members of the LGBTQ+ community is increasingly experiencing.

"Obviously as a community, we are deeply concerned. I think it raises the question and concern (of) how does visibility and showing up look for companies and allies in our community," Rohn said. "Our community has seen a lot, unfortunately, of violence and harassment over the past year. Our community has just had a heightened level of tension and concern around what safety looks like."

Target Pride Merchandise
Pride month merchandise is displayed at the front of a Target store in Hackensack, N.J., Wednesday, May 24, 2023. Target is removing certain items from its stores and making other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride month, after an intense backlash from some customers including violent confrontations with its workers. Seth Wenig / AP

Target's change to its Pride Display comes as Bud Light deals with backlash from customers angered by its partnering with transgender influence Dylan Mulvaney, in an effort to broaden its customer base.

Transgender issues like gender-affirming health care, and participation in sports, have become politically divisive topics.

Rohn says the best way to respond is for allies to stand strong and show up.

"As we go into Pride month, there will be celebrations here in the Twin Cities and all over the state, in communities big and small. And showing up for one another, and showing visible support, and saying, 'You are welcome here,' and 'You're part of this community,' I think that's the key," Rohn said.

Target says it is moving forward with its continuing commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and standing with them during Pride month and throughout the year.

U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, Minnesota's first openly LGBTQ+ congresswoman, released this statement Wednesday:

It is disappointing to see Target give in to threats and harassment from those who do not want to see Pride celebrated in their community. It is important that we do everything we can to keep employees safe in their workplace, but giving in to bullies only emboldens their behavior. 

With states across the country proposing and passing new anti-LGBTQ+ legislation every day, this is not a time in American history where workplaces or people who claim to value diversity, equity and inclusion can walk away from the LGBTQ+ community.
Target has been an incredible ally through the years, and I encourage them to reconsider this decision.

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