New Legislation Calls for Gender-Neutral Toy Sections in Stores
A new law in California requires stores to create a gender-neutral section for childcare items. The law defines childcare items as products designed to facilitate sleep, relaxation, feeding, or assistance with sucking or teething for children. While traditional boys and girls sections will still be allowed, a gender-neutral section must also be created.
Controversy Surrounding the Law
Critics argue that the law violates the First Amendment by compelling businesses to use specific words in their advertisements. Greg Burt, Vice President of the California Family Research Council, a conservative public policy nonprofit group, expressed concerns about the government dictating signage and potentially infringing on religious beliefs. Burt stated, “This is opening a Pandora’s Box.”
Compliance and Penalties
Despite the controversy, many stores have already started complying with the law. According to the legislation, stores must display a reasonable selection of items and toys for children, regardless of traditional gender marketing. Failure to comply after January 1, 2024, may result in civil penalties ranging from $250 to $500 for subsequent violations, enforced through legal action by the state attorney general, district attorney, or city attorney.
Arguments in Favor of the Law
Supporters of the law believe that it will help eliminate gender discrimination and stereotypes surrounding toys. California Democrat lawmaker Evan Low, the author of the legislation, explained, “We need to stop stigmatizing what’s acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids.” Low hopes that the bill will encourage businesses across California and the United States to avoid reinforcing harmful and outdated stereotypes.
Broader Context of Gender-Related Controversies
The introduction of this law comes at a time when controversies surrounding gender-related items have been making headlines. Conservative groups have initiated boycotts against stores selling transgender-related items, such as Target’s “tuck friendly” swimsuits designed to conceal genitalia. Additionally, Bud Light faced criticism after partnering with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney.
The California gender-neutral toy section law aims to promote inclusivity and challenge traditional gender norms. The debate surrounding its implementation highlights the ongoing discussions about gender identity and expression in society.