Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a piece of legislation Saturday that requires the state’s large department stores to display a gender-neutral section for children’s products.
The law, titled “Gender Neutral Retail Departments,” requires stores with at least 500 employees to display a gender-neutral section for all childcare items and toys “regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for boys or girls.” The bill is set to be enacted on Jan. 1, 2024.
The bill passed the state Assembly and Senate in early September after being amended five times by both chambers, the document says. The bill was officially enrolled on Sept. 7. Any store that fails to comply with the state rules will pay a civil penalty fine up to $250 for the first offense and $500 for the second.
The bill was introduced by Democratic Assembly members Evan Low and Cristina Garcia on February 18, 2021, according to the document. Low said that children should not be exposed to “harmful and outdated stereotypes” and be able to access all types of toys and childcare items, the Associated Press reported.
“We need to stop stigmatizing what’s acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids,” the assemblyman said. “My hope is this bill encourages more businesses across California and the U.S. to avoid reinforcing harmful and outdated stereotypes.”
California becomes first state to say big department stores must display some products in gender-neutral ways, a win for #LGBTQ advocates who say traditional marketing pressures children to conform to gender stereotypes.https://t.co/Ii3Gza7NqJ
— David Crary (@CraryAP) October 10, 2021
Low previously said that he was inspired by his staffer’s ten-year-old daughter, Britten, who asked her mother why toys were targeted towards one gender, the outlet reported. (RELATED: ‘Parents Giving Birth’: Governor Celebrates The Gender-Neutral Birth Forms In Wisconsin)
Democratic state Sen. Scott Weiner defended the law saying that it creates “safe spaces” for children in order to prevent conformity, U.S. News reported.
“We know what it was like to grow up not conforming to the way that your gender is supposed to be,” he said. “This is about making safe spaces for all children in today’s society and not pushing, sometimes forcing children to conform.”
A handful of Republican lawmakers and conservative advocacy groups opposing the legislation argued that the government does not have a right to tell parents “how to shop for their children,” U.S. News reported.
“Unlike the author, I actually have children, five of them to be exact, and I can tell you it is very inconvenient for parents,” said Republican state Sen. Melissa Melendez, according to the outlet. “I don’t think parents need the government to step in and tell them how they should shop for their children.
Companies across the U.S. have strived to create and market an increase in children’s gender-neutral products. In February, Hasbro announced that the company would remove the pronouns from their Mr. Potato Head brand.