Target says Pride collection will appear in ‘select’ stores, cuts LGBTQ apparel for kids

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Target will limit which stores sell LGBTQ-themed products following last year’s firestorm over its decision to sell products designed for transgender people.

The retailer said Thursday that it would be selling its Pride merchandise in a select number of its nearly 2,000 stores and on its website this year, citing “historical sales performance.” It added that in addition to selling LGBTQ-themed home and food and beverage items, apparel from its Pride collection this year will be tailored to adults. No Pride apparel for children will be sold.

The latest decision, first reported by Bloomberg News, represents a change from offering the products in all Target stores, as the company has done in previous years.

‘Target is committed to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month and year-round,’ a spokesperson for the company said in an email on Friday. ‘Most importantly, we want to create a welcoming and supportive environment for our LGBTQIA+ team members, which reflects our culture of care for the over 400,000 people who work at Target.’

‘We have long offered benefits and resources for the community, and we will have internal programs to celebrate Pride 2024,’ the spokesperson added.

Last year, Target was the focus of a social media-fueled boycott by some shoppers who disagreed with the retailer’s decision to sell swimsuits for trans people, with many individuals falsely accusing the retailer of selling them to children. The retailer’s Pride-themed clothing for children included apparel with supportive slogans such as “Just be you” and “Trans people will always exist!”

Target has spent the better part of a decade publicly supporting the LGBTQ movement following a controversy involving its CEO’s donation in 2010 to a group that supported a gubernatorial candidate who opposed gay marriage.

But last year’s backlash resulted in the company pulling trans-oriented products from its shelves amid scenes of store employees being harassed by customers.

Target was also falsely accused of selling ‘satanic’ children’s clothes, further alienating some conservative shoppers.

Some conservatives celebrated the company’s announcement to dial back this year’s collection.

“Target won’t be pumping every store with pride crap this year and that’s a win,” conservative media personality and political commentator Tomi Lahren wrote on X on Friday. “Why do we ALL need to celebrate who you sleep with?!!!”

Target is far from the only company that has come under pressure to pare down its support for the LGBTQ community in recent years. 

In 2022, Florida lawmakers passed legislation to strip Disney of control over Walt Disney World’s self-governing district after the company voiced opposition to Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay law. In response, Disney sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies, arguing that the state violated the company’s free speech rights. The two parties reached a settlement over the self-governing district earlier this year.

Bud Light faced a social media firestorm last year after transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney appeared in an online ad for the company. Sales of the popular American beer brand dipped and calls for boycotts surged after the spot.

Several weeks ago, NBC News was first to report that Best Buy offered to screen LGBTQ nonprofit donations earlier this year following pressure from a conservative nonprofit.

“Nothing has changed in the ways we give to LGBTQIA+ organizations,” Carly Charlson, a spokesperson for Best Buy, said in statement earlier this month. “At Best Buy, we strongly believe in an inclusive work environment with a culture of belonging where everyone feels valued and has the opportunity to thrive.”

Target said in its statement Thursday that it will continue to support LGBTQ organizations, including the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, and to spotlight LGBTQ-owned brands throughout the year.

Kelley Robinson, the HRC’s president, said in a statement on Friday that ‘companies need to understand that community members and allies want businesses that express full-hearted support for the community.’

“Target’s decision is disappointing and alienates LGBTQ+ individuals and allies at the risk of not only their bottom line but also their values,’ she said.

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