Toy and gender is not about political correctness

Play is about free expression, exploration and stretching one’s imagination

I am writing in regards to the gender specific toy options offered at a Campbell River fast food restaurant representing a well-known, multinational corporation. Myself and other concerned parents have written to said restaurant’s corporate headquarters with our concerns regarding the promotion of outdated gender stereotypes, only to recieve letters explaining that the restaurant wants all children to enjoy all of the toys they offer equally, and that employees are specifically trained not to refer to toy options as the “girl’s toy”, or “boy’s toy”. While I try not to frequent these restaurants for obvious nutritional/ethical reasons, we occasionally end up there, and if I ask for a toy, I am still always asked “Boy’s toy or girl’s toy?”.

In fact, both the computer screen, as well as the receipt also refer to the toy item in gender-specific terms. I shouldn’t need to point out why this is a negative message to be sending our children, however, considering most employees willingness to phrase the question that way, it appears it needs to be spelled out.

Toys are toys. Play is about free expression, exploration and stretching one’s imagination. Limits to what one can play with based on sexist/homophobic stereotypes limit the child’s ability to stretch there imagination, and thereby stifle self-expression and self-actualisation. In a modern educational setting, such labels are considered detrimental and are not permitted. Furthermore, the parroting of such phrasing makes the employees sound, frankly, stupid.

I have spoken to employees, as well as read posts by employees on internet forums, and they tell me that it is a complete lie that they are trained specifically not to use the discriminatory labels. In fact, they say the opposite is true, and the computer screens and receipts (which many children can read) confirms this. This is not about political correctness, it is about not shaming our children for wanting to play with the “wrong” toys and the current policies reflect the absolutely ridiculous superstition that playing with certain toys as a child somehow has an effect on sexual orientation.

I understand it may take a few extra seconds to say “Would you like the Transformers or My Little Pony?” and that efficiency translates into increased profits, but are profits really more important than our children’s well-being and if this corporation is willing to blatantly lie about this one issue, what else are they decieving the public about?

Tanya MacDonald,

Cortes Island

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