A new California law will require some retailers to implement a gender-neutral toy section for kids, or risk paying fines.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Saturday which will require large retailers to provide gender-neutral toy sections by January 2024.
“A 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 for boys,” Assembly Bill 1084 reads.
Stores who fail to abide by the new requirements as of Jan. 1, 2024 will face an initial $250 fine, and $500 for subsequent violations.
The new legislation only applies to “retail department stores that are physically located in California that have a total of 500 or more employees across all California retail department store locations.”
The bill faced opposition from republicans and conservative groups who said the measures were a “government overreach,” arguing that business owners have it hard enough and should not be burdened with yet another government requirement. Ultimately, they view the move as one more way the government is telling small business owners what they can and can’t do in the free market.
Democrats who supported the bill say the goal is to “stop stigmatizing what’s acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids.”
“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,”says Assemblyman Evan Low. “The segregation of toys by a social construct of what is appropriate for which gender is the antithesis of modern thinking.”
The Consumer Federation of California, a nonprofit advocating for customer rights, supported the bill, saying that the upcoming requirement merely groups similar products together, making easier for buyers to compare products.
Though the gender-neutral section will be mandated, it’s important to note that retail stores will still be allowed to offer toys and goods that are traditionally marketed toward girls and boys.