Lawmakers in Michigan are looking to make a change when it comes to fast food kids' meals. As reported by WHAS, some members of the Michigan House of Representatives want to put a stop to gendered toys in kids' meals. And, according to their resolution, it's not just about the simple ridiculousness of "boy toys" and "girl toys" and kids and parents being forced to choose, but there are some adverse psychological effects of the toys being divided, as well.
The resolution that "urge[s] food establishments and franchisees to stop gender classification of kid's meal toys" was sponsored by Democratic State Rep. Leslie Love on Wednesday, November 28. The resolution (which can be read in full here) notes that sometimes customers are asked if they want a "girl toy" or "boy toy", and that while the "girl toys" tend to be things like pastel colored stuffed animals, the "boy toys" are more likely primary-colored action figures or building toys.
Rep. Love and her 14 co-sponsors are concerned about the gendered toys affecting children's interests and imaginations, and also cite studies that have shown the longterm effects toys divided by gender can have on kids. The resolution references research done by the Gender Development Laboratory at Monmouth University that has shown gendered toys can affect the skills children develop and, later, their careers. Monmouth professor Lisa Dinella told the Guardian in 2016 that toys that are stereotypically meant for boys and girls can both be beneficial, but "both genders lose out if we put kids on one track and they can’t explore."
Rep. Love also cites an Association for Psychological Science study from 2015 that found that toys that encourage spatial play, which tend to be "boy toys", helps kids develop skills that are "especially important for success in particular academic and professional domains, including science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)."
As a solution for the toy issue, the resolution puts forth that customers be asked which toy they want specifically (as in, a doll or a puzzle) and also asks that the resolution be distributed to the CEO of the boards of directors for fast food chains in Michigan. But, the resolution points out that "while some food establishments claim to have abandoned this practice, many stores in Michigan continue to offer gender-classified options to customers." So, it would probably be much more effective if fast food chains started having just one toy option at a time or maybe a few similar ones so that one could just randomly be placed in the bag.
According to USA Today, the resolution has been sent to the House's Committee on Commerce and Trade.
This is far from the first push toward gender-neutral, or at least gender-fair, toys. In August 2015, Target removed signs indicating gender in its kids' toy and bedding sections. Amazon also made a similar move in May of the same year.
It remains to be seen if any changes will be made in Michigan based on this resolution, but you can bet that this won't be the last time a policy like this makes the news.