NEW YORK (AP) — Target is removing some items from its stores and making other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride month after intense backlash from some customers who confronted workers and tipped over displays.
“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” Target said in a statement Tuesday. ”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.”
Target said that customers knocked down Pride displays at some stores, angrily approached workers and posted threatening videos on social media from inside the stores.
Target declined to specify Wednesday which items it was removing but among the ones that garnered the most attention were “tuck friendly” women’s swimsuits that allow trans women who have not had gender-affirming operations to conceal their private parts. Designs by Abprallen, a London-based company that designs and sells occult- and satanic-themed LGBTQ+ clothing and accessories, have also created backlash.
The Pride merchandise has been on sale since early May. Pride month is held in June.
Target confirmed that it has moved its Pride merchandise from the front of the stores to the back in some Southern stores after confrontations and backlash from shoppers in those areas.
Target’s response to confrontations in its stores is taking place as state legislatures introduce a record number of bills targeting LGBTQ+ individuals.
Target’s Pride month collection has also been the subject of several misleading videos in recent weeks, with social media users falsely claiming the retailer is selling “tuck-friendly” bathing suits designed for kids or in kids’ sizes.
Target, based in Minnesota, and other retailers including Walmart and H&M have been expanding their LGBTQ+ displays to celebrate Pride month for roughly a decade. This year transgender issues — including gender-affirming health care and participation in sports — have been a divisive topic in state legislatures and the backlash has turned hostile.