Not all family members match each other. Now kids can get adorable toys that reflect their reality.

MyFamilyBuilders allows kids to literally build their family members.

Cute! Photos courtesy of MyFamilyBuilders, used with permission.


Not all families look alike — yet toys often do.

How would our world change if kids could put together characters that accurately represent the people in their actual families?

They'll soon be able to do just that — and easily — thanks to this new toy set that's not only fun, but kind of revolutionary. Each set of toys comes with 48 magnetized wooden pieces that can be taken apart and put together in whatever configuration the child chooses.

Easy as 1-2-3!

Kids can create families that look like this:

Or this:

And a whole lot more!

The idea struck Ez Karpf a year ago when he and his wife were shopping for gifts for their friends' children.

"Our friends have a multiracial family, and I just assumed I would be able to find a family doll set that resembled my friends' family," he told me.

That's when he discovered what most "nontraditional families" already know: It's nearly impossible to find toys like that at most mainstream retailers. After hitting the doll aisle in several stores, Karpf and his wife came up empty-handed.

That got Karpf thinking: It wasn't just this one family he was having a hard time finding a gift for. There were no dolls that would work for another friend's two-dad family or his cousin's single-parent family.

The lack of diversity in dolls doesn't make sense because families are most certainly not one-size-fits-all.

Karpf says he came across an endless array of "standard" family doll sets — a mom, a dad, a boy, and a girl, all the same color. But what do actual American families look like? Consider the following:

Karpf was determined to provide kids with toys that reflect their realities because he knows playtime is about more than just play.

"The way children explore, experiment, understand, and make sense of the world is through play," Karpf told me. "They also learn cultural meanings through play."

Karpf talked about the situation with his friends. As he explained to me:

"We talked about how odd it was not be able to buy these toys for kids. We know that kids construct the idea of families at a young age, and we thought that if we could teach kids to celebrate love and the values shared by all families, regardless of color, creed, sexual orientation, or culture, maybe there wouldn't be so much evidence of hatred in the future."

So he and his friends set out to do something about it.

They teamed up to take action, and MyFamilyBuilders was born.

The toys are cute, easy to use, durable, and — most importantly — inclusive.

The set also includes a game for building all different types of families, including those with a mom, a dad, a brother, and a sister who all match.

Representation matters!

It's important for children to be able to play with dolls and toys that reflect themselves and their families, but it's good for all kids to have toys showing them that families come in all kinds of configurations.

Right now, says Karpf, most toys refer to a heterosexual world with pre-established roles in the family. But what if every child had access to a toy like MyFamilyBuilders — a toy that promotes diversity, equality, and creativity? That, says Karpf, "is totally revolutionary and innovative. It opens the possibility to think about the world in a different way."

What if toys like these could become mainstream? Let the toy revolution begin!


These toys are for all kids! if you love them, you can order a set and support the Kickstarter — which has already been fully funded (so these toys will be made!) — by visiting the site.

And maybe, jusssstttt maybe, toys like this will start showing up in the stores we frequent, where kids can find them right on the shelves!

More

If you wonder why the LGBTQ community holds Pride parades, look no further than Grayson Fritts.

If you don't know who Grayson Fritts is, here's a brief intro:

He's a pastor. He's a police officer. And he is on video screaming from the pulpit that the government should kill gay people.

That's not an exaggeration.

In a video of a fist-pounding sermon at All Scripture Baptist church in Knoxville, Tennessee, Fritts said that police should round up people at Pride parades, put them through a quick trial, and then put them to death.

"The Bible says the powers that be are ordained of God," he said, "and God has instilled the power of civil government to send the police in 2019 out to these LGBT FREAKS and arrest them. Have a trial for them, and if they are convicted then they are to be put to death…do you understand that? It's a capital crime to be carried out by our government. Not Christians...unless you're a policeman. Know what I mean? If you're a policeman it should be your responsibility to carry these things out."

Just FYI, this man was named "Detective of the Month" in 2017. Let that sink in for a hot second.

"Pride parades?" he continued. "Hey, call the riot teams. We got a bunch of 'em, Get the patty wagon out here, we got a bunch of 'em going to jail, we got a bunch of them that we're gonna get convicted because they've got their pride junk on and they're professing what they are, that they're a filthy animal. After this onslaught, where the government's arresting them and carrying out God's laws and they're all dead…"

And that's only part of it. You can watch five minutes of the sermon here, though I don't actually recommend it.


P.S. The church's website states that the church is "a family integrated church, meaning children of all ages are welcome in our services." So presumably, this extremist, violent hate speech was being delivered to children as well as adults. Lovely.

Grayson Fritts and his church planned a meeting for June 29 at a Cracker Barrel in Cleveland, Tennessee. The restaurant said, "Nope."

The church website lists a "Small Town Soul Winning" event for June 29 in Cleveland, Tennessee, about 80 miles southwest of Knoxville. Presumably, that's why Fritts and members of his church were planning an event at the local Cracker Barrel in town.

But according to Knox News, Cracker Barrel has turned away Fritts and his gang, citing the chain's zero-tolerance policy for "discriminatory treatment or harassment of any sort."

Cracker Barrel said it told the church it couldn't hold its event at their restaurant. "We disagree strongly with their statements of hate and divisiveness," the restaurant chain said in a statement. "We serve everyone who walks through our doors with genuine hospitality, not hate, and require all guests to do the same."

For the folks who would say, "But isn't that just Cracker Barrel discriminating against Fritts for his religious beliefs?" No. If the restaurant had said he and his fellow "Christians" couldn't eat there because they were Christian, that would be religious discrimination. It is Fritts' discrimination, hate speech, and advocating of violence that violates the company's policy of service, not his stated religious affiliation.

Businesses have the right to refuse service to customers that pose a threat other customers. No doubt, LGBTQ people eat at Cracker Barrel. Would you feel safe in an enclosed space with a presumably armed man who believes—and tries to convince others—that you should be put to death?

In a capitalist society that values free speech, businesses taking a stand can be a powerful statement.

We can debate all day long about whether hate speech should be protected under the First Amendment, but as of now, it is. One could make the argument that Fritts was inciting violence with his speech—which would make such speech not protected—but the fact that he was advocating for the government to do the violence and not for citizens to take it upon themselves may legally shield him from that argument.

I know that seems weird, but such are the realities of free speech.

However, the First Amendment only protects us from the government squashing our freedom of expression. It does not mean that a business or private entity can't decide that someone's speech is too heinous to allow in their space. Speech is not protected from other people calling you out on what you say. It's not protected from businesses or institutions deciding you're too much of an a-hole to do business with.

No one needs to be tolerant of dehumanization. No one needs to be tolerant of someone calling for innocent people's deaths because of who they are attracted to. No one should stand for that, ever.

Good for Cracker Barrel for making it clear that there is no place for such hatred at their tables.

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