News and Commentary

UNHAPPY MEAL: Michigan Lawmakers Want To Ban Fast Food Chains From Offering ‘Gender-Specific’ Toys

Lawmakers in Michigan are so worried about the ill effects of “sexism” on children that they’ve proposed a law leaning on restaurants like McDonalds to cease offering “gender specific” toys inside their kid’s meals.

More than a dozen Michigan state lawmakers are behind the proposal, according to the Detroit Free Press, and they’re looking to urge “food establishments and franchises to stop gender classification of kid’s meal toys.”

The “problem” is simple: fast food restaurants like McDonalds occasionally offer more than one toy choice in their kids meals, and occasionally, those choices have a clear basis in gender. For instance, a recent promotion asked Happy Meal purchasers to choose between a Transformer (a “boy” toy) and a Hello Kitty item (a “girl” option).

“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, which doesn’t list a specific punishment for fast food sexism, notes.

“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,” the law continues, adding that the lawmakers hope to “highlight the harmful effects of gender-classified toys.”

That’s right, Michigan lawmakers are concerned that if your female child accidentally gets a stuffed animal in her Happy Meal, she’ll be subsequently trapped under the oppressive constraints of traditional gender norms, which will likely put her on the path to inequality.

Most fast food restaurants have ceased using the terms “boy toy” and “girl toy” to refer to Happy Meal premium selections, though it appears McDonalds has no official policy on the matter. And this isn’t the first time a fast food chain has fallen into disrepute with social justice warriors for failing to abide by the more modern “non-binary” system of gender when handing out free trinkets to children.

Back in 2016, an angry mother who had been asked if the Happy Meal she was purchasing was for a boy or a girl, launched a global petition begging McDonalds and Burger King to change their ways, so as to help parents and children avoid dangerous classifications into the “ridiculous boxes society calls gender.”

At the time, both companies say they were “working on” a plan to be more gender neutral, but that they recognized a need to offer different toy options to consumers. McDonalds added, then, that they planned on introducing “gender-neutral” toy options — like miniature books — in he future. Burger King put out a commercial in 2017 where a boy was seen playing with a Barbie doll meal toy and a girl is shown zooming around with a toy car.

If the resolution in Michigan does pass, it will be considered merely a “suggestion” to Michigan’s fast food restaurants to improve their policies. The law does not provide for any official response if a fast food restaurant is caught being sexist.