Here's some exciting news for those buying children gifts in the UK this holiday season: Toys R Us just removed its website's gender filters, which means you can now browse toys by type, brand, or age group without limiting yourself to "boy's toys" or "girl's yo. This decision marks one of several recent steps toward acknowledging that gender shouldn't limit kids' options and instead viewing all kinds of toys as possible gifts for children of all genders.
Toys R Us UK agreed to end gendered labeling in 2013 after meeting with the parent-run UK campaign Let Toys Be Toys, which has created a number of Change.org petitions asking toy companies to market their products in a gender-neutral manner. Toys R Us U.S. decided to change its signage around the same time.
Unfortunately, though, the United States has not been as quick to change its website navigation. Toys R Us U.S.'s search sidebar currently places the "Boys' Toys" and "Girls' Toys" categories at the very top, implying that gender is paramount in gift selection. This presentation teaches parents and other gift-buyers to socialize children into gender roles by buying "boys' toys" for boys and "girls' toys" for girls, which could discourage kids from exploring interests that fall outside their gender stereotypes.
But the brand's removal of gender-based categories on its UK site is encouraging; hopefully its American counterpart will follow suit.
Furthermore, Toys R Us is not the only company aiming to market its products in a more inclusive manner. Here are three more ways toy retailers have responded to the increasing demand to make all toys available to all kids and take a stand against gender roles.
1. Target Has Removed Gendered Signs From Its Toy Section
In August, the retailer announced it would remove "boys" and "girls" signs from not just its toy section but also its bedding section and others where it has deemed gender categorization unhelpful. "We know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home, or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary," the company wrote on its blog.
Toys R Us is following in the footsteps of Amazon, which removed "boys" and "girls" filters from its Toys & Games section in May. This is particularly noteworthy given that Amazon is known for its endless filtering options, though The Huffington Post pointed out that Amazon has not removed all gender-specific pages from its website.
The Disney Store's website previously contained separate pages for boys' and girls' costumes, but as of this past Halloween, all its costumes are simply labeled "for kids." The Disney Store's website still has boys' and girls' pages, but at least they contain some overlap, with stuffed animals in the boys' section and action figures in the girls' section.
If these changes are any indication of a general trend, we'll be seeing fewer gender-based filters and signs this holiday season, and hopefully, more people will think twice about selecting gifts based on the recipient's gender and pay more attention to each individual's unique interests.