More than 100 organizations called on the business community to “reject and speak out against anti-LGBTQ+ extremism going into Pride Month.”
Although the groups called for the business community to speak out broadly, they specifically called out Target. Last month, Target pulled some of its merchandise from shelves that celebrate Pride Month amid intense backlash from customers and threats to employees.
The groups called on Target to release a public statement immediately reaffirming their commitment to the LGBTQ community, fully put Pride merchandise back on the floor and online, and ensure the safety of team members who are on the front lines.
The Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, GLSEN, Family Equality, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Center for Lesbian Rights and National Black Justice Coalition were among the organizations listed.
“Recent pushback against businesses such as Anheuser-Busch and Target, blatantly organized by extremist groups, serves as a wake-up call for all businesses that support the LGBTQ+ community,” the letter from the 100 organizations read. “We’ve seen this extremist playbook of attacks before. Their goal is clear: to prevent LGBTQ+ inclusion and representation, silence our allies and make our community invisible. These attacks fuel hate against LGBTQ+ people, just as we’ve seen this year with more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that restrict basic freedoms and aim to erase LGBTQ+ people.”
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Target said pulling merchandise was done to protect employees.
"Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work," the company 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 move by Target comes in the wake of backlash against several other high-profile companies over attempts to broaden their customer base ahead of Pride Month in June. Bud Light and its parent company Anheuser-Busch recently came under fire after the beer brand partnered with trans activist Dylan Mulvaney.
Shortly after, some bars and liquor stores vowed to boycott Bud Light, and Anheuser-Busch shed roughly $5 billion in value. In response, the company said it will bolster its marketing spending in the coming months as the brand attempts to restore lost sales.
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The pro-LGBTQ organizations say that supporting their community is one way these businesses can recoup losses.
“Doubling down on your values is not only the right thing to do, it’s good for business,” the groups wrote. “Research shows that if a brand publicly supports and demonstrates a commitment to expanding and protecting LGBTQ+ rights, Americans are 2x more likely to buy or use the brand. Americans ages 18-34 are 5.5x more likely to want to work at a company if it publicly supports and demonstrates a commitment to expanding and protecting LGBTQ+ rights.”
GLAAD noted that The North Face is continuing its “Summer of Pride” campaign, which features drag queen Pattie Goria.
“The North Face's decision should be a signal to other companies that including LGBTQ people and allies is better for business than siding with a small number of violent extremists who want to keep LGBTQ consumers and employees invisible,” said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis.
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