Target has removed controversial LGBT-themed children’s products from all of its U.S. stores and its website after a call to boycott the retailer spread on social media.
The Minneapolis-based retail giant claimed employee safety concerns and angry backlash in some stores as the motivating factors behind the decision. The move came after calls to boycott Target over its 2023 “Pride Collection,” which included LGBT-themed products for children, as young as infants.
According to a statement from Target, “Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and wellbeing while at work. 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.” Products for infants, including onesies with pro-LGBT slogans and content, were part of the collection. One onesie includes the text “Bien Proud,” and another featured what appeared to be LGBT rainbows and hearts along with transgender flag colors.
The withdrawn products will be taken off shelves and removed from all Target stores across the United States and the company’s website. Target spokeswoman Kayla Castaneda said the company has been actively celebrating Pride month for more than ten years. However, this year has seen an escalation in “confrontational behavior” by customers, including throwing some LGBT products onto the floor.
While Target is currently reviewing various items from the Pride Collection, the specific products being removed are those associated with the LGBT brand Abprallen. This brand has faced scrutiny due to its association with British designer Erik Carnell, who has encountered backlash on social media for creating merchandise that features pentagrams, horned skulls, and other Satanic imagery. After the LGBT-themed products from Target gained attention on social media, conservative influencers began to call for a boycott, reminiscent of the recent Bud Light controversy.
Target CEO Brian Cornell defended “woke” companies on Fortune’s “Leadership Next” podcast last week. “I think those are just good business decisions, and it’s the right thing for society, and it’s a great thing for our brand,” he said. “The things we’ve done from a diversity, equity, and inclusion standpoint, it’s adding value,” Cornell said, referring to left-wing training materials. “It’s helping us drive sales, it’s building greater engagement with both our teams and our guests, and those are just the right things for our business today.”