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George Walker IV / AP
George Walker IV / AP

Target to cut Pride merchandise from half its stores
Target has cut Pride Month merchandise from some of its stores this year, according to Bloomberg. The retailer will only stock Pride products in about half of its stores, sources close to the situation told the news outlet. The company is still determining which stores will carry the merchandise, based on recent sales data. All products will still be available online, however.

The retailer has celebrated Pride Month every June for over a decade with a collection honoring the Queer community. Target began removing some Pride items in certain locations in May last year after threats were made to employees' safety. Bloomberg's recent report did not include mentions of those employee safety concerns, but rather cited the company as being motivated by the financial impact of the outrage. Target sales dropped 5% from April to June compared to the same time period the previous year, the company reported at the time.

Texas: Houston district elects first out Queer state senator in state's history
Molly Cook has made history as the first out Queer state senator in Texas following her victory in a special election on May 4 to replace John Whitmire, who resigned to become the mayor of Houston.

An emergency room nurse, Cook won the election with 57% of the votes, defeating Democratic State Rep. Jarvis Johnson, who collected 43%. Saturday's special election victory secures Cook a temporary position representing Senate District 15 until the end of the year. She will face Johnson again in a highly anticipated Democratic primary runoff on May 28. This runoff will determine who will serve a full term starting in January 2025.

Senate District 15 includes key Houston neighborhoods known for their liberal leanings.

Cook's campaign strategy involved intensive voter engagement and was marked by solid fundraising efforts, particularly after the March 5 primary, when she finished second to Johnson. Cook emphasized her deep roots in community service and her professional experience dealing with public health crises, which she argued brought a critical perspective to the legislative process.

New York: Appeals court upholds Catholic school's firing of Gay teacher
A federal appeals court on Wednesday sided with a Catholic high school that fired a Gay teacher over his plans to marry his partner, saying that the termination did not violate federal workplace protections for Queer workers. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said the North Carolina school did not violate Lonnie Billard's rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal anti-workplace discrimination law that protects against race, sex, and religious discrimination.

The ruling from the appeals court is a notable departure from previous rulings that have helped advance Queer rights in various areas of life, including a pair last month that said state health insurance plans in North Carolina and West Virginia unlawfully excluded coverage for gender-affirming care, and one in favor of a young Trans athlete in West Virginia who was barred from participating in school sports under a state law.

Texas: Queer advocacy group reports jump in reported anti-Queer hate crimes
Queer advocates in Texas reported a surge in reported hate crime incidents across the state in 2023, local NBC affiliate KXAN reported. Chloe Goodman, constituent service manager of the advocacy group Equality Texas, told KXAN that their organization fielded a little under 13 reported cases per month on average in 2022. The average jumped to 25.9 cases per month one year later. Even the progressive state capital of Austin was not immune to the uptick in reported hate crimes. The city went from a low of 12 in 2019 to a high of 51 in 2023.

Goodman pointed to increased visibility during Pride Month, and recent legislative action that has resulted in an increase of incidents among students and educators in Texas schools. Texas Republican lawmakers filed a record 141 bills targeting the Queer community last year.