LAKE MARY, Fla. - A Pride Month display at Target's Lake Mary store that once greeted customers near the front is now parked toward the back.
This latest move by the company is in response to "threats" some of its employees nationwide have received over concerns with pieces of the merchandise.
Citing "volatile circumstances," the company is even going as far as removing some items that it says are "at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior."
"These are not rational conversations. They're going in there for the purpose of intimidating and getting their way through bullying and through threats," Equality Florida executive director Nadine Smith said Wednesday.
She says this is a good time for Target to show it fully supports the LGBTQ community instead of backing down. It's a tough decision other brands could soon face.
"When somebody challenges your values, it may be harder to stand by them, but that's how you finally figure out that they're your values, not just an advertising campaign," Smith said.
Dr. Melissa Dodd, a UCF associate professor of strategic communications, understands why Target would prioritize its employees' safety above all else.
"I was surprised to hear that Target was going to roll back on their Pride Month merchandise and that they were putting it in the back of the store," she said. "However, when it came to employee safety, I believe that valuing employee safety above all else is probably central to most companies' mission."
Target shared the following statement on its website:
"For more than a decade, Target has offered an assortment of products aimed at celebrating Pride Month. Since introducing this year's collection, we've experienced threats impacting our team members' sense of safety and well-being while at work. 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. Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year."