Who We Are

We are Let Toys Be Toys – For Girls and Boys. We are a grass roots movement of parents and other concerned adults who organised online in November 2012 to tell toy retailers in the UK and Ireland to stop sorting and promoting toys according to archaic, sexist stereotypes.

What We Want

We want retailers to organise the toys on their shelves and their websites by theme, function, or age, but never by gender. We want to see the “Boys” and “Girls” signposts replaced by categories like “Science and Nature”, “Dolls and Accessories”, “Vehicles,” “Construction Toys” and “Arts and Crafts.”

Why It Matters

Girls should feel free to choose building, science, and sports toys, without first having to defy the message that this is “Boys Stuff.” Boys should know that they can choose dolls, crafts, and play kitchens, and they should not have to look under a “Just for Girls” sign in order to do so.
We believe that gendered toy displays actively discourage girls from pursuing interests in science, engineering and technology, and that this is reflected in the underrepresentation of women in STEM courses and careers. We believe that the stigma facing boys who enjoy nurturing or creative play is directly related to a cultural bias that denigrates traits and activities historically associated with women and girls.

Why We’re Focused on Retailers

We recognise that sexism in the toy industry is a problem that goes well beyond retailers. We focus on retailers because they are undeniably part of the problem, and what we’re asking of them is simple, relatively cost neutral, and achievable in the short term.

Retailers can be part of the solution by simply rearranging shelves and replacing sexist shop signage and website taxonomy, to ensure that they are not making lazy, stereotypical assumptions about the interests of boys and girls.

What We’ve Achieved So Far

We have seen significant positive changes in our first six months. Following sustained pressure from our campaign and supporters on social media, Boots agreed that shelving science toys under a “Boys Toys” sign was unacceptable, and committed to removing in-store displays that divide toys by gender.

Let Toys Be Toys has also had successes with Morrison’s and Hobbycraft, who have promised to remove “Girls” and “Boys” signage from their toy and craft shelves, and with Asda, who have removed the gendered toy sections from their website. Galt Toys responded to campaign criticism of their website by introducing the gift search options of “Birthday,” “Travel,” and “Rainy Day,” rather than offering different gift options for girls and boys.

Matalan, whose online children’s dress-up section came to the campaign’s attention for listing as “Boys’” the doctor, “fireman” and “policeman” costumes, alongside “Girls” costumes such as a nurse’s outfit and various princess dresses, responded positively to challenges by Let Toys Be Toys on Twitter, and to emails from the campaign’s supporters. Matalan now categorise all costumes as “kids dress up”, and have renamed the “fire fighter dress up” and “police officer dress up” costumes.

We have received commitments from Next and from Marks and Spencer that they will review their gendered promotion of own-brand toys in time for Christmas 2013, and Tesco have said that their practice of assigning gender categories to toys on their website will be reviewed after Let Toys Be Toys supporters responded with outrage when the campaign tweeted an image from the Tesco website showing a Chemistry set labelled for “boys” alongside a play kitchen labelled for “girls.”

A motion of support for our aims has been lodged with the Scottish Parliament. We are close to 5,000 signatures of support on our petition at, and we have over 4,000 supporters on Facebook and Twitter.

This is a movement that is gaining momentum, and we are proud of the role we are playing in freeing children from the same kind of stifling stereotypes that are no longer viewed as acceptable when they are applied to adults in education, employment, or marketing.

Please join us at