California Bill to Force Retailers to Have Gender-Neutral Display Area for Toys
Stores face penalties for not complying
California could start requiring retail department stores to have gender-neutral display sections in their displays that contain childcare items and toys.
Under the bill, stores would be forced to have a gender-neutral area to display "a reasonable selection" of products "regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girl or for boys."
Non-compliant stores face a $250 civil penalty for a first infraction and $500 for a subsequent violation.
Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low said the proposal came from being inspired by a 10-year-old child named Britten, whose mom works in his legislative office.
"Britten asked her mom while shopping why certain things in a store were 'off-limits to her because she was a girl, but would be fine if she was a boy," Low said, according to the outlet.
"Thankfully, my colleagues recognized the pure intentions of this bill and the need to let kids be kids."
GOP State Sen. Melissa Melendez opposed the legislation, noting that she would "recommend we let parents be parents," AP reported.
"I don't think parents need the government to step in and tell them how they should shop for their children," she said.
Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener said he and Low are "childless gay men" and defended their right to hold views regarding children.
"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."
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Though the bill would not apply to clothes, another version of the bill last year did apply to clothing, AP notes.
"I was inspired to introduce this bill after 8-year-old Britten asked, 'Why should a store tell me what a girl's shirt or toy is?'" Assemblymember Evan Low said, according to a 2020 press release about that prior version of the legislation.
"Her bill will help children express themselves freely and without bias. We need to let kids be kids."