(KRON) — Ahead of Pride month, Target announced it is removing certain items from its stores and making other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide, after an intense backlash from some customers including violent confrontations with its workers.
“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.
In addition to removing some items, Target confirmed that it has also moved its Pride merchandise from the front of the stores to the back in some Southern stores after confrontations and backlash from shoppers.
California Governor Gavin Newsom responded on Twitter, saying people should be alarmed to hear about attacks on the LGBTQ+ community. “This isn’t just a couple stores in the South,” he said.
“CEO of Target Brian Cornell selling out the LGBTQ+ community to extremists is a real profile in courage,” Newsom tweeted. “Wake up America. This doesn’t stop here. You’re Black? You’re Asian? You’re Jewish? You’re a woman? You’re next.”
Target declined to say 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.
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.
Pride Month is held in June and the merchandise has been on sale since early May.
Target 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.
At least 17 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors, though judges have temporarily blocked their enforcement in some, including Arkansas. An Associated Press analysis found that often those bills sprang not from grassroots or constituent demand, but from the pens of a handful of conservative interest groups.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.