Of all the things people complain about nationwide coffee chains, burning the local LGBT community isn’t one we’d heard before. But Caribou Coffee did just that when it ordered a window decoration supporting a gay-straight alliance removed.
During the homecoming season in suburban Northbrook, Illinois, student groups at Glenbrook North High School have long teamed up with local businesses to promote their causes. The Caribou Coffee on Shermer Road painted one of its windows with a sign supporting the school’s GSA, but Caribou’s corporate headquarters soon demanded it be removed.
“They’re the only window in town that decided to wash their window,” said area PFLAG mom Debby Shulman. I think it’s pretty critical to let the community know this is unacceptable.”
Staffers at the coffee house declined to comment, but a representative for Caribou sent Patch.com the following statement:
It is a corporate-wide key pillar that we are accepting of all individuals regardless of age, gender, race or sexual orientation. It’s our hope that all of our guests feel welcome in our coffeehouses.
Unfortunately, the actions undertaken by the Northbrook store team were not in alignment with our executional standards and policies; however, we take full responsibility of these actions.
We completely understand your concerns and we are taking an immediate review of our policies and practices at the store level to ensure every customer has a welcoming and positive experience in our stores.
A school district spokesperson said the school was disappointed by the company’s action: “We are proud of our safe and open environment at GBN, where students support and respect each others rights as individuals.”
HRC’s Buyer’s Guide notes that while Caribou bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, it does not protect trans employees, or provide benefits to same-sex partners. Commenters on the Northbrook Patch Facebook page have called for a boycott of Caribou Coffee. “Completely done walking into Caribou anywhere,” said one irate poster.