Following our rant about the way children’s toys are categorised, we contacted Let Toys Be Toys for more information on their gender neutral campaign and Tricia Lowther kindly sent us this article.
Let Toys Be Toys
Gender neutral toys were a popular news topic in the run up to Christmas. The campaign group, Let Toys Be Toys, made TV and radio appearances and were featured in the national press. They want 2013 to be the year that retailers in the UK take down the Boys and Girls signs.
The group formed in November 2012 as a result of discussions on the parenting website, Mumsnet. Chat threads highlighted the growing sense of frustration many parents feel about the segregation of toys, as well as the many negative effects it has on children.
“Typiclly, a shop will label cars, construction and science toys for boys, and dolls, make-up, cooking and cleaning toys for girls. The suggestion is that boys should be active; builders, explorers and scientists, while girls are expected to be passive; take care of the home and focus mainly on how they look,” says group member Tricia Lowther. “Studies show how the toys children play with can affect the way their brains develop and children’s options may be limited if they think they are only allowed to play with certain toys.”
The group carried out a survey to gain an initial view of which stores were doing the best and which were the most limiting. They plan to expand on it this year in order to benchmark progress. They have also launched a petition to be presented to retailers later this year.
On their facebook page the group target retailers such as Marks and Spencer, who have been criticised for labelling items such as a marble run and walkie talkies ‘BoyStuff.’ut a survey to gain an initial view of which stores were doing the best and which were the most limiting. They plan to expand on it this year in order to benchmark progress. They have also launched a petition to be presented to retailers later this year.
The Entertainer also came under fire for a heavily segregated store layout.
The group highlight positive stories too; Early Learning Centre’s new catalogue was praised for showing both genders playing with a range of toys.
The campaign has had quite a response from the public and from retailers: Next have agreed to look at other ways of organising their toy range for next Christmas after their ‘For Boys’ packaging on boxes of dinosaurs and jungle animals was queried; Tesco tweeted an apology for the online labelling of a chemistry set, ‘gender: boys’; Asda, along with others in the toy industry have said they will look into making changes to their web layout and other retailers have also agreed to look at the issue.
The message from Let Toys Be Toys is simple: It would be better for children if toys were categorised by theme rather than by gender. What do you think?