A new bill being considered by the California Assembly would require department store children’s sections to be “gender neutral.” Failure to comply results in a $1,000 fine.
Democrat Assemblyman Evan Low introduced the first version of the bill last year but pulled it due to more pressing COVID-19 legislation. He decided to reintroduce the measure because he wants children to be able to “express themselves without bias.”
CA AB2826 (19R) would force all retail department stores with over 500 employees to “maintain undivided areas of its sales floor where, if it sells childcare articles, children’s clothing, or toys, all childcare items, all clothing for children, or all toys, regardless of whether a particular item has traditionally been marketed for either girls or for boys, shall be displayed.”
“Keeping similar items that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys separated makes it more difficult for the consumer to compare the products and incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate,” the text of the bill states.
California-based retail stores would be forced to sell the majority of their children’s products in one undivided, “gender-neutral” area. Stores would also not be allowed to display signage that marks a product’s gender intentions.
Retailers would also have to create a page on their websites that displays children’s products in a gender-neutral manner. The bill states that the page can only be titled “kids,” “unisex,” or “gender neutral.”
Low, chair of the Legislative LGBT Caucus, told Politico that the bill was inspired by one of his staffers, whose daughter wanted toys from the “boys” section of the store.
Should a retail store fail to comply with the proposed law, it will be issued a written notice from the Attorney General that gives the store 30 days to correct the violation. If the violation is not corrected, a civil fine of $1,000 will result.
“The bill comes amid a growing backlash to gender-specific toys and clothing. Groups such as the international Let Toys Be Toys campaign argue that such merchandise perpetuates entrenched gender stereotypes and can make children feel shame if they don’t conform to them,” Politico said.
Some retailers, such as Target, have already been moving towards these changes. In 2015, Target announced that it would combine gender separated toy and bedding sections. However, it said that apparel would stay separate due to “fit and sizing differences.”
Libertarian-leaning outlet Reason Magazine wrote that this law would “deprive Target and other retailers of making that choice for themselves.” The magazine also noted that this mandate could violate the First Amendment.