On Saturday, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law requiring large retail stores to make a gender-neutral section for some toys. The law will take effect in 2024 and affect retail stores with 500 or more employees across all California locations. Only California stores will be affected, even if the retailer is in other states.
The bill requires, “…retail department store that offers childcare items or toys for sale shall maintain a gender-neutral section or area, to be labeled at the discretion of the retailer, in which a reasonable selection of the items and toys for children that it sells shall be displayed, regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or boys.”
Once the law goes into effect in 2024, stores that do not comply will receive a $250 civil penalty for the first infraction. Subsequent violations will cost retailers $500.
The law does not clarify how large or how many toys the gender-neutral section needs to satisfy the law. The law states, “[It] may keep consumers from ‘incorrectly’ believing that a given toy may be ‘inappropriate’ for one gender and not the other.”
The bill was reportedly inspired by a 10-year old child, Britten. The child’s mother works in Assemblyman Evan Low’s legislative office.
According to The Blaze, “Britten asked her mom while shopping why certain things in a store were ‘off-limits to her because she was a girl, but would be fine if she was a boy” Low states, “Thankfully, my colleagues recognized the pure intentions of this bill and the need to let kids be kids.”
Low doubled down on this by wanting to make sure that girls could find trucks and dinosaurs and boys could find glitter if they chose. Low said, “Why should you feel the stigma of saying, ‘Oh, this should be shamed’ and going to a different location?”
The legislation has received its fair share of criticism from Republican senators. Melissa Melendez voted against the legislation saying she would “recommend we let parents be parents. She also said, “I don’t think parents need the government to step in and tell them how they should shop for their children.”
Others criticized the move as the government becoming more of a “nanny state” by trying to tell private companies how to organize their merchandise.
This new bill will not apply to children’s clothing, though Low had attempted that in his 2020 version of the bill. After Newsom signed the bill, he did not release a statement.
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