Happy Pride Month! I hope you're all enjoying local festivals, regional drag shows, Pride bar crawls, and overall queer fun and tomfoolery. While enjoying the month of June and reflecting on LGBTQIA+ history, major corporations are also trying to cash in on the fun. While many big companies rainbow-wash their products and services, some are well-intentioned. Many Starbucks stores around the country often proudly display pride flags in their locations, even year-round. However, some Starbucks employees are claiming that the "supportive" company they work for is actually taking down every and all signs of LGBTQIA+ support. 

Is Starbucks forcing employees to remove Pride decorations?

According to Starbucks Workers United, a collective of U.S. Starbucks Partners who are trying to unionize, middle managers are not allowing employees to hang flags or are making them remove current decorations. 

In a @SBWorkersUnited TikTok/Instagram Reel, the worker on camera shares a view of Pride flags folded up in a bucket. "Starbucks says that it's unsafe," the worker shared. "We don't have a ladder to be able to hang them up properly, so we're just not going to hang them up this year," despite having hung them up every year throughout their five to six year tenure. 

As a self-described inclusive work environment, the company's website states, "Starbucks strives to recognize and celebrate all communities – including the LGBTQIA2+ community – year-round." However, many workers have taken to Reddit and Twitter to detail how their Starbucks locations are allegedly caving to conservative pressures, in a similar vein to Target. 

In a recent Guardian article, journalist Michael Sainato interviewed Starbucks workers. An anonymous employee shared, "I was told that they had just implemented a new no-decorations policy. And I was like, ‘Right before Pride?’ That’s really suspicious and kind of weird. I was pretty sure it wasn’t just our store, because our store managers are very supportive of LGBT stuff, most of our employees are LGBT community members, and I was told that it was the regional manager’s decision."

Did Starbucks respond?

Starbucks spokesperson Andrew Trull released a statement sharing "There has been no change to any policy on this matter and we continue to encourage our store leaders to celebrate with their communities, including for U.S. Pride month in June."

He continued, “We’re deeply concerned by false information that is being spread especially as it relates to our inclusive store environments, our company culture, and the benefits we offer our partners,."

Are employees fighting back?

While corporate Starbucks leaders share that policies have not changed, @SBWorkersUnited posted an official press release directed at higher-ups. 

Here, they gathered anecdotes from various employees, social media posts, threads, and the like.