Sara Broussard was taking a brief break between running a toy museum and raising her 4-year-old twin girls when she came upon the book ABC—Deconstructing Gender in a Target store on Shearn Street in Houston, Texas.
“There was a Pride section that had just been set up, and it was one of the things in the middle of the main aisle,” she remembered. “I saw it, and it’s really cute the way it’s illustrated and it caught my eye.”
She picked up one from a stack of copies that stood among the merchandise Target sets out in its stores to celebrate Pride month each year. She flipped through it to make sure it was age-appropriate.
The book seemed a good opportunity to continue her effort to keep her twins from accepting gender-based stereotypes and she took a copy up to a self-checkout register. When she put it through the scanner, a message flashed on the screen.
“A team member is on the way…”
She could not imagine what the problem might be. The clerk who came over was equally puzzled.
“Oh, it’s recalled,” the clerk said by Broussard’s recollection.
“That’s a book,” Broussard said.
“Yeah, that’s really weird,” the clerk said. “Usually things are recalled based on ingredients in them or something like that. I’ve never seen this before.”
The clerk was unable to facilitate the purchase, and Broussard left empty-handed and confused. She sought to solve the mystery by posting a video on TikTok.
“I’m not finding anything online about this,” she said. “So, I was wondering if anyone else has heard anything about it. It’s in their Pride section. Nothing about a recall on Google.”
Broussard, who is the founder and owner of the Houston Toy Museum, received no immediate answers as to why the book might have been recalled.
She would later learn that Target had decided to remove some Pride items from its stores out of fear.
“For more than a decade, Target has offered an assortment of products aimed at celebrating Pride Month,” the company said in a statement earlier this week. “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.”
Those items include “tuck friendly” swimsuits that some right-wing disinformation artists claimed were for children but were, in fact, intended only for adults.
Kayla Castaneda, a crisis communications specialist for the retail giant, flatly refused to tell The Daily Beast if the children’s book—still available online—was one of the items it pulled from stores. “We have nothing to share at this time,” she wrote in an email.
After her TikTok video, Broussard also found herself on the receiving end of vitriol, just for trying to buy the book.
“A lot of conservative Christians were saying things like, ’You must not be a mom’… ‘I hope you’re not a teacher’…‘It’s terrible that you would want to buy this book for your kids,’” Broussard told The Daily Beast.
She was finally able to get a copy through ashandchess.com, a website run by the two authors, Ashley Molesso and Charles Needham, who describe themselves as a queer and trans couple. Broussard made a second TikTok video in which she read the book aloud in answer to those who judged it solely by its title.
“Just to show that what you think is in this book is not what’s in this book,” she said. “It really is just teaching that there are boys who can be nurturing and a girl can be tough and brave and we don’t have to fit within these gender roles that have been laid out for us.”
“It didn’t even start necessarily a broader conversation yet because they’re only 4,” she added. “They liked looking at the illustrations.”
Broussard added that she has always sought to expose them to strong female characters .
“And so I think for them it was just another book,” she said.
This post was originally published on Daily Beast
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