Michigan lawmakers push fast-food restaurants to stop offering gender-based toys

Receiving a free children's toy at Michigan fast-food joints may soon require restaurants to ask the kids which ones they'd prefer, at least if lawmakers successfully go through with a petition to stop “gender classification” of kids’ meal toys at fast-food franchisees.

Earlier this week, the state House of Representatives introduced a motion requesting that chains stop offering “boy toys” and “girl toys” on the grounds that such classifications “limit children's imagination,” going so far as to argue that such restrictions can prevent young girls from taking an interest in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields, KWCH reports.

Instead, the lawmakers want children to be offered a “choice” of toy without traditional gender labels.

According to the resolution, many food establishments in the Wolverine State currently still offer gender-classified complimentary toys, despite multiple studies citing the harmful effects of such actions.

According to the resolution, many food establishments in the Wolverine State currently still offer gender-classified complimentary toys, despite multiple studies citing the harmful effects of such actions. (iStock)

Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit) is the primary sponsor of the House Resolution No. 429, which has 14 co-sponsors, the Detroit Free Press reported.

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According to the resolution, many food establishments in the Wolverine State still currently offer gender-classified complimentary toys, despite multiple studies citing the harmful effects of such actions.

“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."

“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." (iStock)

"Food establishments often offer a toy with their meals marketed to young children, and in some cases the customer is asked if they prefer a 'girl toy' or a 'boy toy.' Often, the designated 'boy toys' are action figures or building toys, typically, in primary colors, whereas 'girl toys' are often stuffed animals and are usually in a pastel color scheme,” the resolution states, as per KWCH.

“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,” it continues. “While some food establishments claim to have abandoned this practice, many stores in Michigan continue to offer gender-classified options to customers."

"Numerous studies have highlighted the harmful effects of gender-classified toys,” the resolution adds.

“If a customer desires a toy, it should be one of his or her choice without classification by gender. Customers should simply be offered the choice of toy,” the statement reads. “(Example: Would you like a Transformer or a My Little Pony?)”

“If a customer desires a toy, it should be one of his or her choice without classification by gender. Customers should simply be offered the choice of toy,” the statement reads. “(Example: Would you like a Transformer or a My Little Pony?)” (iStock)

“If a customer desires a toy, it should be one of his or her choice without classification by gender. Customers should simply be offered the choice of toy,” the statement reads. “(Example: Would you like a Transformer or a My Little Pony?)”

The motion goes on to cite a 2015 study from the Association for Psychological Science, which reported that "boys are more likely to play with toys that develop spatial intelligence and reasoning than girls. These skills are especially important for success in academic and professional domains, including science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)."

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As noted by the Free Press, this is hardly a new issue. In 2008, a Connecticut girl questioned the policy of being receiving a “girl” versus a “boy” toy with her McDonald’s happy meal, and a 2016 petition on the same topic made headlines as it gained traction.

Some critics on Twitter, meanwhile, weren’t too happy with news of the resolution, largely calling for Michigan state reps to focus their attention elsewhere and pour their energies into resolving more pressing issues.

“This is what they’re spending time and money on? Flint still doesn’t have safe water,” one wrote.

“Seems like there are more important things for them to do, maybe address our crumbling roads, the poisoned wells up north, flint water, poor public schools....just a thought,” another agreed.

“God help us,” one mused.

"Tax dollars hard at work," another chimed in.