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Building Block Toy Company Click-A-Brick Urges Toy Industry Association To Eliminate Gendered Toy Award Categories

Building block toy company Click-A-Brick’s Co-Founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza have joined the movement to eradicate gender from the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) Toy of the Year awards, saying there is no need to have separate categories for boys toys and girls toys.

Nominees for this year's Boy Toy of the Year include Star Wars toys, a Marvel Hulk toy, a Hot Wheels playset, a Nerf gun and a flying drone while the nominees for the Girl Toy of the Year include a Disney Frozen doll, a Nerf Rebelle bow and arrow, a Girl Scouts branded toy oven, a Shopkins ice cream truck, a Zoomer Kitty toy cat and a black-light illuminated nature journal. The awards were handed out over the weekend at the TIA's annual Toy Fair.

The issue of desegregating the toy awards was most recently raised by Washington Post contributor Rebecca Hains, who is an associate professor of advertising and media studies at Salem State University and an assistant director of the Center for Childhood and Youth Studies.

Hains detailed in a column for the newspaper how entrepreneur and founder of Dan Nessel has been lobbying the TIA to get rid of its gendered categories for its annual toy awards and how the TIA has thus far resisted.

And now, Smith and Gorostiza are adding their voices to the growing number of people who are calling for the desegregation of the TIA’s toy awards.

“We think Hains is right in calling the gendered toy awards a throwback to the past,” Smith said. “With the progress we’ve seen lately in doing away with the gender stereotypes in toys, having one of the most influential organizations in the industry still holding onto them seems a little backward to us. If anything, it makes more sense for the TIA to be leading the initiative to desegregate toys along gender lines. Children should feel free to play with whatever they want without having adults pushing them toward something or telling them they shouldn’t play with something just because they are one gender or the other.”

The pair of toy entrepreneurs point to their company’s own recently-released 30-piece building block set Bug’s Life as proof that gender segregation has no room in the toy industry. With its ability to make five different kinds of insects, many would categorize the new set as more of a boy’s toy, the co-founders say, but it’s meant for any child who has an interest in building and discovering the world of insects, which can include children from either gender.

Smith and de Gorostiza say they hope to see the gender categories disappear for the Toy of the Year Award as soon as next year.

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