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Caribou Coffee apologizes after erasing window art by local gay-straight alliance

Monday, September 30, 2013
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NORTHBROOK, Ill. — The Caribou Coffee chain is apologizing after a Chicago-area store erased window art completed by a local high school’s gay-straight alliance.

The display was part of an annual homecoming tradition where student clubs from Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Ill., decorate the windows of local businesses.

CaribouBut students from the gay-straight alliance saw that their window display at Caribou — which included rainbow colors and male, female and transgender symbols — had been wiped clean, according to Bill Horine, a social studies teacher and the group’s faculty adviser.

Horine told the Chicago Tribune that school administrators received a message from Caribou manager saying he had received a couple of complaints about the window and decided to erase the decoration.

Debby Shulman, a member of the local chapter of the Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) said the store manager told her he had the window washed because he did not want the store to take a side on any issue.

A spokesperson for Minneapolis-based Caribou declined a request by LGBTQ Nation on Monday to comment on the incident, and referred the matter to local regional management.

The company did issue a brief statement, however, that the store did not follow company policy, which is “accepting of all individuals regardless of age, gender, race or sexual orientation.”

The group since received a “very conciliatory reach-out” from the corporate office, indicating a willingness to “make this right,” Horine said.

Caribou district manager Meike Fonteyn, whose territory includes the Northbrook store, said he was “open to a lot of possibilities to resolving this, but it has to be authentic, not just saying, ‘I’m sorry.’”

Glenbrook North’s student leaders are scheduled to met Tuesday to consider their response to the company.

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