The Reach

Headline: The LGBTQ+ Reach: July 13 — 19

7 GOP Attorneys General Attack Target’s Pride Line

On July 5, Todd Rokita, Republican Attorney General of Indiana, sent a six page letter to Target, co-signed by the Republican Attorneys General of Arkansas (Tim Griffin), Idaho (Raul Labrador), Kentucky (Daniel Cameron), Mississippi (Lynn Fitch), Missouri (Andrew Bailey), and South Carolina (Alan Wilson).

The letter references new “child protection” laws against the “sale or distribution… of obscene matter” if “the dominant theme of the matter… appeals to the prurient interest in sex,” including “material harmful to minors.” 

Readers may recall that laws such as this consider “gender transition procedures” any sort of care affirming LGBTQ+ identities, including hormone blockers and trans-inclusive therapy.

The footnotes state that Target’s “Pride” campaign may not break all their states’ new anti-LGBTQ+ laws, but list several anyway to “demonstrate that our States have a strong interest in protecting children and the interests of parental rights.” 

This includes another Indiana law that mandates parental notification if a child changes pronouns, and an Alabama law that prohibits anyone (including parents) from engaging in practices to “affirm [a] minor’s perception of his or her gender or sex… if that appearance or perception is inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”

Somehow, things devolve further, into a frenetic fever dream.  After listing several Target Pride items such as rainbow onesies, t-shirts depicting stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race, and bathing suits with tuck-friendly construction for trans girls, the letter shifts into a list of appalling-sounding “Satanist-inspired” items – which Target did not sell. 

But Why List Them?

For 2023, Target sourced three Pride products from British brand Abprallen: two t-shirts that say “Cure Transphobia, Not Trans People” and “Too Queer for Here,” and a bag that says “We Belong Everywhere.”

Abprallen, the queer equivalent of a Spencer’s or Hot Topic, also sells fairly offensive stuff that Target would never carry (though the letter spends nearly ten percent of the space listing these items).

The letter also attacks Target’s support of GLSEN, an organization founded by teachers to promote “safe, inclusive, and affirming learning environments for all students.”  I lovingly refer to GLSEN as the “Queer Youth Leadership Program.”  GLSEN’s website says they support “student-led efforts to positively impact their own schools and local communities.”

So Why Attack Them?

GLSEN, formerly the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, recommends that school faculty let students determine what information about their identity is revealed to their parents.  This is not to hide kids from loving parents.  This is to protect children from abuse and abandonment.

The Trevor Project, which provides a 24/7/365 support line to queer youth, reported last year that 28 percent of queer youth have experienced homelessness or housing instability (for trans and nonbinary youth, nearly 40 percent).  Nine percent had run away due to mistreatment or fear, and nearly six percent were kicked out or abandoned, solely due to their LGBTQ+ identity.  

The Crime of… Serving Minorities?

The letter ends with pages lecturing Target on the fiduciary duties of corporations.  Essentially, they contend that Pride-related backlash caused Target’s stock to decline (though footnotes admit global factors are also at play).  This decline in market cap is inaccurately referred to as a reduction in profits, and the letter suggests that fiduciary duties are being violated by continuing to carry Pride merchandise amidst a decline in profit.

So this is where we are: selling merchandise catering to a minority group is being argued as bad business.  So are we banning everything non-majority now?  And is anyone actually in the majority at all times?  Is everything “different” assumed to be bad?  Is a rainbow onesie “sexualizing” babies?

The right is now openly harassing LGBTQ+ people, using embarrassingly weak legal excuses, in bad faith.  Their inherent message seems to be that LGBTQ+ folk are a criminal threat to families trying to “recruit” kids into a “lifestyle.”  What a tired argument to hear in 2023.

LGBTQ+ people (according to themselves and science) exist naturally, even under extreme adversity.  We can’t “recruit,” because we just are.  We do, however, have a vested interest in protecting queer youth, ironically from folks claiming to be “protecting children from harm.”

Read the full letter at