Target Promises To Stop Sorting Kids’ Merchandise By Gender

While every kid has preferences, there’s no reason why little boys can’t play with dollhouses or why little girls can’t play with plastic dinosaurs. Some parents, kids, and other activists have started to ask retailers why store sections for anything marketed to kids is always separated into strict “girls” and “boys” sections with signage to match. One retailer announced today that they’ll be changing that.

Target will phase out their red-and-blue and pink-and-purple sections in the coming months, instead sorting items by what they are. For example, all cartoon character bedding sets or animated movies would be shelved together instead of separated by shelf for boys and for girls. Toys will be arranged the same way, with Target promising to even get rid of subtle cues about who toys are for, like “pink, blue, yellow or green paper” behind the actual shelves.

Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance. For example, in the kids’ Bedding area, signs will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls, just kids. In the Toys aisles, we’ll also remove reference to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves. You’ll see these changes start to happen over the next few months.

UK-based Let Toys be Toys has done great work in pointing out examples of this from all over the world, and they also explain very clearly why gendered toys are such a bad idea. They explain why kids should be allowed to choose what they want to play with, rather than having retailers reinforce who each toy is for:

Toys focused on action, construction and technology hone spatial skills, foster problem solving and encourage children to be active. Toys focused on role play and small-scale theatre allow them to practise social skills. Arts & crafts are good for fine motor skills and perseverance.

McDonald’s is a notable example of this, too: when there are two different sets of toys available, customers used to be asked whether they wanted the girl toy or the boy toy. While the chain has been trying to phase this out here in the U.S., apparently it’s still common in Canada.

What’s in Store: Moving Away from Gender-based Signs [Target] (via Bloomberg)