California bill would require gender neutral sections in department stores
Large retailers that sell toys, clothes and other children’s items in California would have to devote floor space to merchandise marketed to both boys and girls under a new bill.
Stores would be able to sell the same products they do now as long as they maintain some areas where shoppers can find all toys or clothes, regardless of gender-based marketing, under CA AB2826 (19R) from Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell). It would apply to department stores with 500 or more employees beginning in 2023.
Low, chair of the Legislative LGBT Caucus, said he wants to make the shopping experience more inclusive for children. He said the idea came from one of his staffers, whose young daughter had asked why certain items she wanted were in an area designated for boys.
“This is an issue of children being able to express themselves without bias,” Low said in an interview Friday.
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.
Target in 2015 announced it would stop its gender-based labeling of toys under pressure from consumer advocates.
California lawmakers this year will also consider a bill that would make it illegal to charge extra for toys or other items marketed to girls and women, a practice critics call “the pink tax.”
If passed, stores that did put dresses in a separate girls section could be hit with a $1,000 civil fine.