boy shopping for toys

New California Law Requires Department Stores To Create ‘Gender-Free’ Children’s Shopping Areas

The sea of pink and blue-tinted toy aisles in some big box retail chains could soon be a thing of the past, at least in California.

Adam Beam of the Associated Press reported that on Saturday, Oct. 9, California “became the first state to say large department stores must display products like toys and toothbrushes in gender-neutral ways, a win for LGBTQ advocates who say the pink and blue hues of traditional marketing methods pressure children to conform to gender stereotypes.”

According to Beam, “the new law, signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, does not outlaw traditional boys and girls sections at department stores. Instead, it says large stores must also have a gender-neutral section to display ‘a reasonable selection’ of items ‘regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys.’”

There are a few caveats to the new rule: it doesn’t apply to clothing, just toys and “childcare items” like health, hygiene and dental supplies. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees will also be exempt from the law.

The bill was authored by Assemblyman Evan Low, a Democrat from San Jose who had previously brought the proposed law before the state legislature in both 2019 and 2020.

Following its passage, Low told reporters that the bill had been inspired by his 10-year-old daughter, who repeatedly asked her parents why certain toys were “off-limits” to her because she was a girl.

Low also expressed his “incredible gratitude” to Gov. Newsom for signing the bill into law.

“We need to stop stigmatizing what’s acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids,” Low said. “My hope is this bill encourages more businesses across California and the U.S. to avoid reinforcing harmful and outdated stereotypes.”

A number of state Republicans repeatedly expressed their displeasure with the bill, saying the state had no business telling parents how they should “shop” for their children.

“While California is the first state to require this, some large department stores have already changed how they display their products,” Beam reported. “Target [No. 29 on The Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021], with 1,915 stores across the United States, announced in 2015 it would stop using some gender-based signs in its stores.”

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

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