A Caribou Coffee shop in Northbrook, Ill., a northern suburb of Chicago, this week removed a window display created by Glenbrook North High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance, breaking a longstanding tradition. The store’s manager said workers had been ordered to erase the rainbow-themed decorations from the store’s windows because Caribou does not want to be perceived as taking a stance in favor of LGBT social equality and ending anti-gay bullying in schools – the primary messages promoted by GSAs.
The move comes just months after a Caribou Coffee shop in Racine, Wis., ordered the Wisconsin Gazette, the state's only LGBT news publication, to be removed from the store after three years. But at the same time, a right-wing militia newspaper remained available at the store.
A Caribou corporate spokesperson told WiG at the time that the manager of each store was empowered to decide which publications to make available on their premises and the company had no policy governing such issues. Ironically, Caribou Coffee shops in Chicago’s East Lakeview neighborhood are popular hangouts for the large local gay populations.
Starbucks does not permit any free local newspapers, including LGBT publications, in its corporate-owned stores, and Walgreens expressly forbids LGBT publications in its Wisconsin stores, although some managers look the other way and accept them in areas with large gay populations.
In Northbrook, local businesses have for many years allowed about a dozen school clubs to decorate their windows during homecoming week, reported the Chicago Tribune's suburban edition.
But this year, the manager of the Northbrook Caribou Coffee told Debby Shulman, a member of the local Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays chapter, that the store refused to take a pro-gay stance.
The Glenbrook North GSA has about 30 members and promotes acceptance of all students. An advisor to the group said its student leaders were outraged and disappointed over the discrimination.