Target to remove some LGBTQ items following customer backlash

NEW YORK, May 23 (Reuters) – (This May 23 story corrected the spelling of Cornell’s first name, Eric, from Eric, in paragraph 8)

Target, which unveiled its Pride collection in early May, is pulling some products from its stores after facing customer backlash, saying it was working to protect employee safety, the company told Reuters on Tuesday.

Target Corp ( TGT.N ) offers more than 2,000 products as part of its Pride Collection, including apparel, books, music and home furnishings. Includes “Gender Fluid” mugs, “Queer All Year” calendars, and books for kids ages 2-8 titled “Bye Bye, Binary,” “Bride 1,2,3” and “I’m Not A Girl.”

“Since launching this year’s collection, we have experienced threats that affect the safety and well-being of our team members while at work,” Target said in a statement.

“Given these volatile circumstances, we are making changes to our plans, including removing items at the center of the most significant conflict behavior,” the Minneapolis-based retailer said.

Target has been celebrating Pride Month for over a decade. But this year’s collection has led to an increase in conflicts between customers and employees and incidents of Pride merchandise being thrown on the floor, Target spokeswoman Kayla Castaneda said.

Target’s move follows a conservative backlash against Bud Light, which brewer Anheuser-Busch used last month to promote the beer on social media with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Target is removing the recalled products from all its U.S. stores and its website, Castaneda said.

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While various Pride Collection products are under review, only LGBTQ brand Abprallen, which has come under scrutiny for its association with British designer Eric Cornell, is now being removed.

Cornell faced social media backlash for designing merchandise featuring images of pentagrams, horned skulls and other Satanic products.

A search for Abprallen merchandise on Target.com on Tuesday returned “0” results.

Screenshots and posts In social media events, Target previously sold a $25 slogan sweater with the words “Cure Transphobia Not Trans People” and an $18 “Too Queer for Here” tote bag.

Target is also reviewing some transgender swimwear and children’s items, but Castaneda said no decisions have been made on those products yet.

For example, a swimsuit sold in the women’s section has come under scrutiny for its fit being described as “duck friendly,” highlighting its ability to address male genitalia.

A Fox News Report Some Target stores in southern states said earlier Tuesday that they were removing Pride-related merchandise from storefronts. An employee at a Target store in Arkansas told Reuters that the store had a deep dive into Pride-related swimwear.

“We used to have swimsuits in the front… but they are now in a random area in the back,” said the employee, who did not want to be named. “We started shifting inventory on Sunday.”

Siddharth Gavel’s report in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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