California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Ivory poaching changes evolution of elephants California regulator proposes ban on oil drilling near schools, hospitals, homes Biden says he would tap National Guard to help with supply chain issues MORE (D) signed a bill on Saturday that will require large retailers in the state to have “gender neutral” toy sections.
Under the bill, large retailers in California will be required to have a “gender neutral section or area” that will feature a “reasonable selection” of children's items and toys “regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys.”
The new law — which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024 — applies to retail department stores that have 500 or more employees across their locations in the state.
Retailers that fail to abide by the new law will be forced to pay a $250 fine. Subsequent violations will be subject to a $500 fine.
The state legislature approved the measure last month.
The bill argues that separating toys that are traditionally marketed for girls and boys “makes it more difficult for the consumer to compare the products and incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate.”
Additionally, the legislation contends that “unjustified differences” in similar products that are marketed for boys or girls can be more easily recognized by consumers if they are on a shelf next to one another.
Assemblymember Evan Low (D), an author of the bill, said separating children’s toys by marketed gender “is the antithesis of modern thinking.”
“Traditionally children’s toys and products have been categorized by a child’s gender. In retail this has led to the proliferation of [science, technology, engineering and mathematics]-geared toys in a ‘boys’ section and toys that direct girls to pursuits such as caring for a baby, fashion, and domestic life,” Low said in a statement he provided to the assembly’s judiciary committee, according to The Washington Post.
The bill was reportedly inspired by a conversation Low’s 10-year-old daughter had with her mother at a store, when she asked why some toys marketed for boys were off limits to girls.
The bill received opposition from some businesses and conservative groups, which contended that such establishments should not have to answer to requests from the government that will hinder their efforts to adapt to the free market, the Post reported.
Other critics took issue with the gender part of the bill, arguing that lawmakers do not not have the authority to force retailers to push the government’s thoughts on gender.
State Sen. Melissa Melendez (R) said she voted against the bill to “let parents be parents.”
“Unlike the author, I actually have children, five of them to be exact, and I can tell you it is very convenient for parents… I don’t think parents need the government to step in and tell them how they should shop for their children,” Melendez said, according to The Associated Press.
This legislative session was at least the third time California lawmakers made an effort to pass the bill, according to the AP. They previously tried to approve the legislation in 2019 and 2020, but those attempts failed.