Target has removed a range of controversial LGBT-themed children’s products from all of its U.S. stores and its website after calls to boycott the retailer spread on social media.
The retail giant cited employee safety concerns and angry backlash in some stores as motivating the move. It comes after calls spread on social media to boycott Target over its 2023 “Pride Collection,” which included LGBT-themed products for children as young as infants.
“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and wellbeing while at work,” a statement from Target reads. “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 features what appear to be LGBT rainbows and hearts along with the transgender flag colors.
The Minneapolis-based retailer was offering a range of child-oriented LGBT books in its inventory, such as “Bye Bye, Binary” and “What Are Your Words?” These books instruct children on the use of transgender pronouns. Some products for kids also appear to feature drag queens, according to products sold on the company’s website.
Target spokeswoman Kayla Castaneda said the company has been actively celebrating Pride month for more than 10 years. However, this year has seen an escalation in “confrontational behavior” by customers who’ve taken actions such as throwing some LGBT products onto the floor.
Target’s recent decision to remove certain products from its stores and website comes shortly after the beer brand Bud Light saw its sales plummet after featuring transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney in a social media campaign in April.
Castaneda clarified that the withdrawn products will be taken off shelves and removed from all Target stores across the United States and from the company’s website.
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 owing 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.
Calls to Boycott
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.
Candace Owens, a conservative commentator, said of the company, “Target has been an openly perverted company for a long time—many million times worse than Bud Light and worthy of being boycott out of existence.”
She previously urged “all people with a moral conscience” not to shop at Target, saying it’s the most “pro-transgenderism” company.
Conservative commentator Steven Crowder simply stated, “Boycott Target.”
Broadcaster Megyn Kelly expressed concern about children being exposed to such products at Target, saying, “We don’t need our kids seeing this [expletive] when we walk down the aisle at Target.”
Among the alleged children’s products that stirred controversy was a line of female swimsuits that featured a “tuck-friendly” label, indicating that it would have enough fabric to cover male genitals, according to videos posted online from inside a Target location.
“Did you know @Target also sells ‘tuck-friendly’ bathing suits for children in the Pride section? Well, now you do,” reads one social media post.
A spokesperson for Target told The Associated Press that the “tuck-friendly” swimsuits are only offered for adults and the children’s line of clothing doesn’t feature that label.
“The ‘tuck-friendly’ swim suits are for adults only,” the spokesperson said.
Daily Wire commentator Matt Walsh said he found the controversy more egregious than Bud Light’s partnering with Mulvaney.
“What Target is doing is far worse than anything Bud Light did,” he said. “They are selling chest binders and ‘tuck-friendly’ bathing suits for children.”
Last week, Target CEO Brian Cornell defended “woke” companies on Fortune’s “Leadership Next” podcast.
“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.”
“When we think about purpose at Target, it’s really about helping all the families, and that ‘all’ word is really important,” Cornell added. He also said that the focus on diversity and inclusion and equity has fueled much of the company’s growth over the past nine years.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.