Toy story

A toy designer’s ‘statement of acceptance’ for LGBTQI+ community is one that every child deserves to hear

Who is purple, has a beehive hairdo and is absolutely fabulous? One of the minifigures in LEGO’s set celebrating the LGBTQI+ community, that’s who. The purple figure is a tribute to drag queens everywhere and will be launched on the first day of June — celebrated as Pride Month around the world — as part of the Danish toy company’s rainbow-coloured “Everyone is Awesome” set. Each of the 11 monochrome figures in the set has its own individual hairstyle and has no specific gender assigned to it. This is to allow children to decide who they want the figurines to be or represent. Matthew Ashton, the designer behind the gender-inclusive toy, said he had designed the set not just as a sign of his pride in the LGBTQI+ community, but also because he wanted to make a statement of acceptance that he himself had not received as a child.

Because that’s what it comes down to, ultimately. Who we are and how we want to be seen and loved always goes back to whether we were allowed in our childhood to express ourselves and love ourselves as we are. Children are pushed into strictly-gendered categories early — girls are supposed to wear pink and play with dolls, boys should love race cars and the colour blue. No one’s allowed to cross over from one category to the other, forget about transcending them altogether. And, so, the child’s developmental journey — which is naturally fluid in tastes, preferences and even self-identification — is curtailed.

This is why Ashton’s statement of acceptance is so important for every child to hear. And it does not have to be in the form of an expensive LEGO set; it could be made, quite simply, by letting children pick their own toys and games, clothes, forms of self-expression and self-identification, also allowing these preferences to change over time. Because everyone is, indeed, awesome.

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