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Parents Petition Toys 'R' Us To Do Away With Gender-Specific Marketing

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Parents have begun a campaign to stop mounting Toys 'R' Us from marketing its toys by gender, accusing the retail giant of sexism.

This month, Toys 'R' Us in the U.K. announced it was marketing its products in a more neutral way, and dropping any gender references within its stores.

People have been signing a petition on, asking Toys 'R' Us in the U.S. to do the same.

The petition, which had reached more than 3,000 signatures as of Monday night, claimed Toys 'R' Us has grown "more extreme" in its separation of toys geared toward boys and girls.

"When walking into a Toys 'R' Us store or opening your catalog, it's instantly clear to kids that science, building, vehicles, and superheroes are the purview of boys while girls' toy options are limited dolls, crafts, beauty supplies, and, of course, princess paraphernalia," the petition said. senior organizer Shelby Knox told CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez Monday that she would like to see the retailer stop putting blue and pink sections in its stores, and hanging signs that identify toys based on gender.

"I think that as soon as a child is born and you say, 'boy,' or 'girl,' they're told what their destiny is going to be, and we continue that in toys by telling them what they're supposed to play with," Knox said. "So if parents have the option of going into a store and simply picking out what's best for their child, rather than what gender Toys 'R' Us says they're supposed to be, then children will have a healthier upbringing, and they'll have a better understanding of gender roles and how to fight them."

A parent, Gillian Anderson-Mann, told CBS 2 she agreed with the effort.

"I think it's nice for them to just feel like they can play with whatever they want to," she said.

But the U.S. division of Toys 'R' Us claimed its stores do not have gender-specific sections to begin with.

"At Toys 'R' Us, we understand that children have many diverse interests, and we consistently strive to portray that in our aisles and in our advertising materials. There are no gender-specific toy sections in our stores," the retailer said in a statement. "Toys are merchandised by product category, so customers can easily see the breadth of assortment."

For example, the retailer said, learning toys, sports toys, pre-school toys and construction sets are grouped together.

Further, the retailer said, "With regards to advertising, Toys 'R' Us regularly features girls and boys playing with all different types of toys and has done so for some time."

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