The retailer Target announced on August 7, 2015, via a statement on its corporate web site that it will remove gender based labeling in certain departments. These departments include toys, bedding and entertainment. The decision was made after receiving feedback and suggestions from customers.
The retailer aims to avoid having guests and families feel frustrated or limited by the way things are presented. Signs that offer product suggestions like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, will still exist. However, in other departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, these signs will be phased out.
Jason Smith, Co-Founder of the learning toy company Click-A-Brick lauds the decision. “Suggesting products by gender is unnecessary,” Smith said. “I would like to give Target a standing ovation. Children are children and not every aspect of their environment needs to be organized by gender. Now if only other stores and toy companies would follow suit. At Click-A-Brick none of our toys are labeled or categorized in any manner. Our lines are meant to develop spatial and motor skills – and that has absolutely no relevance on gender.”
The retailer is set to identify areas where they can eliminate gender-based signage in order to strike a better balance. In the Bedding area, for example, signs will no longer feature suggestions for boys or for girls. Instead, they will just read kids. In the Toys aisles, all reference to gender will be removed. The use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves will also cease. These changes are programmed to be phased in over the next few months.
Research has shown that children can become uninterested in certain toys when they learn that they are associated with the other gender. Studies have shown that children as young as 30 months avoid toys associated with other genders either by type, label or color.
The Co-Founder of Click-A-Brick Georg de Gorostiza extols Targets decision. “ Gender labels matter when children are choosing toys,” de Gorostiza said. “When the toy shelves are labeled for boys or for girls, it simply limits children’s choices. I mean, you wouldn’t offer a child nothing but bananas to eat, no matter how healthy the fruit. Children need variety in their diet. The same goes for their toys and play. We shouldn’t categorize playtime nor make their decisions for them. We must give them the freedom to make choices based on their own strengths, abilities and interests. We need to focus on letting boys and girls grow without being burdened by stereotypes.”
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