LGBTQ+ anti-bullying group receives violent threats amid Target backlash: ‘Dangerous lies’

A picture of the red bullseye logo for retailer Target, which has come under fire from right-wing media outlets and anti-LGBTQ+ groups because of the store's Pride collection

Right-wing outlets are targeting LGBTQ+ anti-bullying group GLSEN as part of their war on Target.

Target is currently at the centre of a right-wing firestorm over its LGBTQ+ Pride collection. Bigots complained, threatened boycotts, destroyed displays – and some even sent bomb threats to stores over the collection, prompting the retailer to pull certain items.

As the right-wing press continues to stoke the anti-LGBTQ+ backlash, Fox News has turned its attention to Target’s decade-long partnership with GLSEN – an American education organisation working to end anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and promote queer inclusion in K-12 schools.

Fox News claimed GLSEN wants “gender ideology to be integrated into all classes”, because the group provides educators with instructions on how to make maths lessons “more inclusive of trans and non-binary identities” by including “‘they/them’ pronouns in word problems”. 

Other right-wing outlets quickly followed suit, running headlines attacking GLSEN. The New York Post alleged the organisation “urges schools to hide kids’ gender transitions from parents”, while the Daily Mail labelled it a “woke education lobbying group”. 

As a result, GLSEN said it received “an onslaught of hateful messages and threats” to its mission and the “physical safety” of the non-profit’s staff. 

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Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, condemned the right-wing media for spreading “dangerous lies” about GLSEN, which “put a target on them”. 

“It is now our duty to join together as a community and show support and love to the hard-working staff and leaders at GLSEN,” Ellis said. 

“Their critical work helps so many LGBTQ+ students and has for decades. The inaccurate and hateful attacks on our friends at GLSEN are reprehensible.”

GLSEN responds to Target backlash

GLSEN executive director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers said the organisation’s mission is to “create safe, inclusive learning environments for K-12 students”.

She added that “recent attacks from right-wing extremists” prove how “important and necessary” GLSEN’s work is. 

“We are seeing the far right harass companies in an attempt to erase the LGBTQ+ community,” Willingham-Jaggers said. 

“We cannot let a violent, angry minority hold our democracy, our school system or our community hostage. 

“As GLSEN and LGBTQ+ people continue to face attacks, we’re committed to our mission and to the students that rely on us, and we’ll continue to fight to ensure that every single student can go to school free from fear.”

Target has been under siege over its LGBTQ+ Pride merchandise.

The store had been selling “tuck-friendly” swimsuits for adults. However, social media users claimed the the swimsuits were marketed at children, fuelling typically hateful, anti-LGBTQ+ claims that Target is “grooming” children.

After violent backlash, Target pulled some merchandise from display and purchase. Some have accused the retailer of “caving in” to right-wing threats. 

Target said it decided to remove items that were at the centre of the “most significant confrontational behaviour” given the threats are impacting staff members’ “sense of safety and wellbeing while at work”.