A California bill proposed is forcing large retailers to sell children’s items in gender-neutral departments under the threat of financial penalty.
Under the legislation, department and big box stores would be required to eliminate “boys” and “girls” sections when selling childrens’ items and create undivided sections where traditionally gender marketed toys and clothes can be displayed side-by-side by 2024.
Retailers will also be prohibited from labeling children’s items as “boys” or “girls” on their websites, instead forced to title the categories “kids” or “gender-neutral.” Violators who refuse to comply will be liable for a $1,000 civil penalty.
Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) introduced the bill to prevent “prejudice” against non-gender-conforming children and was inspired by a staffer’s daughter, who wanted to purchase a toy that had been designated as boys.
“This is an issue of children being able to express themselves without bias,” remarked Low, who was unable to gain traction when he introduced the first version last year. “The policy behind this bill is not only important in regards to addressing perceived societal norms but also ensuring that prejudice and judgment does not play a prominent role in our children’s lives.”
Fortunately, the bill will not be another blow to struggling California small business owners, it only applies to retailers that employ more than five hundred workers. Global brand Target switched to gender-neutral children’s toy displays in 2015, the retail giant operates 297 stores in the Golden State.
When a shopper virally tweeted a pic of a toy aisle labeled as “Building Sets” and “Girls’ Building Sets,” the critical backlash provoked Target to commit to eliminating gender-based labeling and color displays in children’s aisles. However, the change does not apply to children’s clothing sections as the bill would enforce.
“Clearly – I would hope clearly – we’re still going to have a mens’, womens’, boys’ and girls’ clothing department,” A spokesperson said after the August 2015 announcement. “Barbies are still going to be with Barbies and Legos will still be with Legos. We just didn’t feel like having a sign that said ‘boys bedding’ was necessary.”
The proposed bill will also affect companies’ websites, retailers will be required to display a “gender-neutral” section online, but will still be allowed to maintain separate boys and girls categories. Target’s already set up with a legislation-approved category titled “kids” on their website that displays nationwide.