Target is withdrawing some items over threats that were “impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being” on the job, according to a statement on its website.
The company is adjusting its plans, including removing items that have been the center of controversial behavior such as people throwing LGBTQ Pride displays on the floor, according to a video emerging on social media.
One woman recorded a TikTok video in a Target store on Monday, expressing her anger regarding a greeting card that read “So Glad You Came Out” and a yellow onesie that said “¡Bien Proud!”
“If that doesn’t give you a reason to boycott Target, I don’t know what does,” she said.
Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, tweeted, “Extremist groups want to divide us and ultimately don’t just want rainbow products to disappear, they want us to disappear.”
She adds that Target will double down on its commitment to the LGBTQ+ community since the community has celebrated Pride with Target for the past decade.
Target’s reversal would encourage violent threats from people who are anti- LGBTQ+ according to Michael Edison Hayden, a senior investigative reporter and spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that tracks hate crimes.
He said, “I think once they enter that fray they have a responsibility to stand by that community… As soon as you back down like this, you send a message that intimidation works…”
When it comes to attaining a broader representation of LGBTQ+ people in advertising, advocacy groups are cautious that this could create a chilling effect.
“75 percent of people who did not identify as LGBTQ+ were comfortable seeing those represented in marketing campaigns,” according to a survey conducted in February called GLAAD. That figure has been consistent since 2020.
“You can absolutely roll out an ad campaign and include LGBTQ+ folks in it,” Ms. Ellis of GLAAD said. “And at the same time, there is this political right-wing arm that you have to be aware of when you’re doing it and just be prepared for.”
The backlash from shoppers had led the company to remove its Pride merchandise and move it from the front of the store to the back.
The company wants to support “all families’ and focus on the diversity, inclusion, and equity of all families that has helped the company grow over the past nine years according to what Target CEO Brian Cornell said in an interview with Fortune‘s Leadership Next podcast.
Edited by: Steven London