Editorial Contest: Pink for Boys and Blue for Girls

Syanne Kettavong, Student

Should my brother be able to shamelessly watch his favorite movies, Tinkerbell and Barbie? Should my sister be able to watch Blaze and the Monster Machines? Yes, simply because that is what suits their interest. My siblings and I have been raised with the mentality that it is valid to be who you are and explore your interests. Would you stop your kids from doing what they love even if they don’t understand why indulging in their interests are ‘wrong?’ Gender stereotypes should not be forced onto youth. Many adults are preventing kids from creating their own personalities by telling them what they should and should not like.

Perhaps we should start raising children to be more open-minded about who and what they can play with. Living a childhood with enforced gender stereotypes promotes the idea that men are the strong dominant sex, while women need to be protected. The Journal of Adolescent Health studied that exposure to these gender expectations increases the risks of mental and physical health issues in children by the age of 10-11 years old.

Children in a gender-neutral school environment also learn to treat others as equals. They do not have a preference in the gender of whom they play with, teaching them to treat themselves and others as equals, as recorded by the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. Playing with children of both same and opposite genders allows children to learn the similarities between genders.

Letting children do things that are deemed masculine, feminine, and gender-neutral would help them explore their interests. They would develop ideas about themselves without feeling they are prevented from doing what they love because ‘it’s not right for girls or boys to do that.’

Nonsupporters believe girls need to play with things that will make them homemakers and that boys must be their protectors. Similarly, that pink is reserved for girls, and blue is for boys. Colors can be defined as a specific combination of hue, saturation, and lightness or brightness. Children should be free to wear whatever please without the fear of judgment. Boys and girls can play with anything, learning to be independent and not prefer a specific gender.

A simple solution to children’s gender limitations is letting children explore their own creative interests, and discover their own likes and dislikes by choosing their own toys and clothes. This does not mean forcing them to play with toys of the opposite gender, but rather letting them decide if they want to explore them or not. Forcing gender stereotypes on children increases the risk for psychological issues, as well as preventing them from exploring who they really are and collaborating with others. Gender stereotypes should not be forced on children and we should help them explore and grow rather than boxing them in a gender-specific idea.