Michigan lawmakers are calling for the end of gendered fast food toys. Representative Leslie Love (D-Detroit) and 14 other lawmakers introduced House Resolution No. 429 on November 28th, which urges “food establishments and franchisees to stop gender classification of kid’s meal toys.” This would mean nixing the “girl toys,” often pastel plushies, and “boy toys,” like action figures in primary colors, and simply asking kiddie customers which toy they want without nailing a gender to it.
“This is a significant issue as billions of these meals are sold every year and this practice can influence and limit children’s imaginations and interests by promoting some toys as only suitable for girls and others only for boys,” the resolution reads per Michigan’s WHAS 11.
Love notes in her resolution that many studies have revealed gender-classified toys can negatively affect a child’s perception of gender — a perception that begins to form at age two. She cites the Gender Development Laboratory at Monmouth University, which states that as a child grows older, “his or her play activities change based on societal connection to their gender grouping.”
For Love, this resolution is not about ditching fast food toys completely, nor does she necessarily want a gender-neutral toy option. Rather, Love wants fast food chains, like McDonald’s and Burger King, to ask which toy a child prefers without labelling it a “girl toy” or a “boy toy.”
Should restaurants be able to offer ‘boy toys’ and ‘girl toys’ when serving up chicken nuggets & fries? A Michigan lawmaker says no.— John Hogan (@JohnHoganWOOD) November 28, 2018
A House Resolution introduced Nov. 28 urges food establishments and franchises to stop gender classification of kid’s meal toys. @wzzm13 pic.twitter.com/8FMb6cL2Af
“I just want you to give me a toy, whether it’s a Power Ranger or a My Little Pony. Just put it in the bag,” Love told USA Today. “It’s a new day, and it’s time for us to stop using that kind of language and setting those kinds of limits on our children… We would never want to gender-identify careers, but we still do it with our toys.”
Some fast food restaurants across the country have already made this change, and Love is calling on the major fast food chains’ CEOs of boards of trustees in Michigan to follow suit.
With big box stores like Target removing gendered language from their in-store marketing, and with Michigan lawmakers taking up the fight, fast food chains may feel the pressure to do the same.