Aim to remove some LGBTQ items after customer backlash

NEW YORK, May 23 (Reuters) ̵[ads1]1; (This May 23 story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Carnell’s first name to Erik, from Eric, in section 8)

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

Target Corp ( TGT.N ) offers more than 2,000 products, including clothing, books, music and home furnishings as part of the Pride Collection. Items include “gender fluid” mugs, “queer all year” calendars and books for children ages 2-8 titled “Bye Bye, Binary,” “Pride 1,2,3” and “I’m not a girl .”

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

“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,” the Minneapolis-based retailer said.

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

Target’s action comes on the heels of a conservative backlash against Bud Light, after brewer Anheuser-Busch promoted the beer on social media last month with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

The products Target is withdrawing are being removed from all of its U.S. stores and from its website, Castaneda said.

While various Pride Collection products are under review, the only ones currently being removed are LGBTQ brand Abprallen, which has come under scrutiny for its association with British designer Erik Carnell.

Carnell has faced social media backlash for designing merchandise with images of pentagrams, horned skulls and other Satanic products.

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

Screenshots and posts on social media shows that 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 certain transgender swimwear and children’s items, Castaneda said, but no decision on those products has yet been made.

For example, a swimsuit sold in the women’s section has been scrutinized for the way its fit was described as “tuck friendly”, highlighting its ability to allegedly fold male genitalia.

A Fox News report earlier on Tuesday said some Target stores in southern states were moving Pride-related merchandise away from the front of the stores. An employee at a Target store in Arkansas told Reuters they had moved Pride-related swimsuits deeper into the store.

“We had swimsuits in the front… but now they’re in a random area in the back now,” said the employee, who did not want to be named. “We started moving the goods on Sunday.”

Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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