Playing with toys and gender


Reporter - Briana Conner
Photographer - Michael Bradford

PADUCAH, Ky. — Let toys be toys is the name of the campaign that's partnered with Toys "R" Us in the UK to get rid of gender-specific sections in the store. Explicit references to gender in Toys "R" Us marketing will be the first to go. The store also plans to include images of kids enjoying the same toys.

Their goal is to shatter stereotypes. Behavioral and child cognitive experts say gender designations in toys can limit kids, but some parent's still aren't on board with the new idea.

"I think they should keep it the way it is. Let girls be girls and boys be boys," said Theresa Hicks. She has three kids and says America Toys "R" Us stores are set up the way they should be. Hicks said, "Girls go to the girls toys. Boys go to the boys toys."

Boys and girls at a local day care seemed to like playing with whatever makes the most noise. Certified Social Worker LaMonica Brown said what they were doing is an important part of childhood development. "We want kids to explore, to be able to pick up any toy they want to pick up and say, 'What is this? What can I do with this?' It promotes positive brain development."

Brown said toys like dolls or trucks shouldn't be gender specific, but should give kids a choice to play and learn how they want to. "It's gonna be good for a child to be creative, imaginative, and play with different things," she said.

It's a benefit for kids that can be a concern for their parents. "They can go overboard with it, you know," said Hicks.

Toys "R" Us stores in the U.S. haven't signed on to make any gender-neutral changes.