Champine: Target Must Take a Stand for the LGBTQ+ Community


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Take Pride merchandise display at Target in New York City, New York. (Courtesy of Getty Images)

By Morgan Champine, Assistant Opinion Editor


On May 27, 2023, Target stores across Utah faced bomb threats due to items in their PRIDE collection. In a statement, Target stated that, “Our focus now is moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ communities and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year.” Target needs to take a stand against hate by putting better protections in place for its queer employees and reinstating the removed merchandise to the PRIDE collection.

PRIDE Collection

Target’s statement is hypocritical — they have abandoned the LGBTQ+ community. It has abandoned its PRIDE collection creators and artists, and its LGBTQ+ consumers. The items that have been removed are from a collection made by an artist called Abprallen. They cannot be found on the Target website anymore. These items consisted of a tote bag, a shirt and a fanny pack. In a statement on Instagram, the company shared photos of the removed items. The tote bag read “Too Queer For Here” the shirt read “Cure Transphobia, Not Trans People” and the fanny pack read “We Belong Everywhere.” These phrases are not frightening. They’re very tame, very harmless. It’s when we start to see a fear of phrases like these that we realize how deeply the community is under attack. There is nothing scary about the phrase “we belong everywhere”.

A false story spread by Daily Wire host Matt Walsh mentioned that Target is selling tuck-friendly swimsuits in children’s sizes. Walsh says, “We can also clearly see that the bathing suits … are available in kids sizes.” The swimsuits are only available in adult sizes XXS-4X. Spreading information that Target is singling out children is a fear tactic. The idea that transgender people are grooming children is consistently used in anti-transgender propaganda. Spreading this false narrative on the tuck-friendly swimsuits is dangerous.

Target Employees At Risk

The threats that Target employees are facing are very real. Target needs to keep its employees safe without shunning the LGBTQ+ community in the process. In an anonymous interview with a current employee at a Utah Target, the employee said, “I think if [the items were returned] it would cause more backlash and more threats. Overall right now, I think the goal is to protect the floor workers, and bringing those items back could potentially put the floor workers at more risk again.” The employee chose to remain anonymous out of concern for their safety.

The employee also stated, “There has been no address to the staff about any of it. If they were planning on addressing it, I feel like they would have addressed it by now. I think it’s weird that it’s such public information, and they haven’t said anything to us or tried to address anything they’re going to do for safety.” Target should ensure that their employees are well-informed about the situation at hand and increase security at any locations targeted. The first worry should always be the front-line workers, who are simply trying to do their jobs.

That’s not the only way Target is abandoning its employees. When asked whether the anonymous employee felt that Target had a continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community, they said, “I have plenty of coworkers who aren’t respected in the workplace, especially by management. They’re usually the ones who mess up people’s pronouns. You can contact the ethics hotline if someone isn’t using your pronouns or reach out to HR, they’re supposed to help, but if you reach out for help, they don’t do anything. Nothing changes, and nothing happens.”

It’s incredibly disheartening to hear that Target is all bite and no bark when it comes to protecting their queer employees. With few internal protections for queer employees, external threats pose an even bigger threat. The LGBTQ+ community inside and outside of Target feels abandoned by the company, and this situation must be immediately rectified by the company.

Statistics show that Target will actually benefit from doubling down against hate. They should reinstate the PRIDE collection merchandise previously removed. If a brand is committed to protecting LGBTQ+ rights, Americans are 2x more likely to shop there. Target needs to make a greater effort in their workplace to support queer employees. The company should not claim inclusivity and practice exclusivity. If using preferred pronouns is an expectation in the workplace, it should be treated like so. It should not be disregarded by anyone, especially not management. Target is a beloved company by many shoppers. If they want to continue to hold this standing, they will have to choose their side in history.


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