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Target scales back on its LGBTQ+ merchandise ahead of Pride Month 2024

Target says it will no longer sell its 2024 Pride Month collection in all of its stores following last year's conservative backlash over its LGBTQ+-themed merchandise.

The retail giant said in a press release last week that it plans to offer its collection of products to celebrate Pride Month — including adult clothing and home decor — during the month of June both online and in "select stores," depending on "historical sales performance."

In a statement to NPR, a spokesperson for the retailer says it is committed to supporting the LGBTQ+ community not only during Pride Month but year-round.

The retail giant says it will continue to offer benefits and resources for the community and its more than 400,000 employees, adding that the company will have a presence at local Pride events near its Minneapolis headquarters.

For years, Target has carried Pride-themed merchandise in its stores — including clothes, cups, champagne, accessories and even pet costumes.

But last year, the retailer faced heavy criticism after it announced plans to remove some of its Pride Month merchandise from store shelves following a backlash against the products — including threats to employees' safety.

"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 retailer said in a previous statement addressing the backlash.

At the time, when asked which items were removed and whether security was being increased at its stores, Target not respond to NPR's inquiry.

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson said in a statement to NPR that Target's decision to limit its Pride Month merchandise this year is "disappointing," saying the move "alienates LGBTQ+ individuals and allies at the risk of not only their bottom line but also their values."

News of Target's scaled-back efforts for Pride Month comes as the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning on Friday that foreign terrorist organizations may potentially target LGBTQ+ events and venues during Pride Month in June.

The joint statement does not discuss any specific threats or intelligence suggesting that a specific event, celebration or individuals are subject to being targeted.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.