Sunday, October 10, 2021
A JCPenney department store in Carlsbad, California.Image: Amin Eshaiker.
On Saturday, Governor Gavin Newsom of the U.S. state of California signed into law a bill that would require retailers with 500 or more employees throughout the state to keep a gender-neutral area for childcare products and toys. The law is set to take effect in 2024.
The bill, Assembly Bill 1084, states that “a retail department store that offers childcare items or toys for sale shall maintain a gender neutral section or area, to be labeled at the discretion of the retailer, in which a reasonable selection of the items and toys for children that it sells shall be displayed, regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys.”
Retailers failing to abide by this law would be subject to a civil penalty of US$250 for a first violation, and US$500 for subsequent violations. The court could also order the violator to pay court costs and attorney’s fees.
The bill was approved by both houses of the California Legislature last month before being sent to the governor’s desk for approval.
Assemblymembers Evan Low and Cristina Garcia, both members of the Democratic Party, introduced the bill into the California Assembly, the lower house of the state’s legislature.
Speaking about the bill, Low said, “Part of it is to make sure if you’re a young girl that you can find a police car, fire truck, a periodic table or a dinosaur. And then similarly, if you’re a boy, if you’re more artistic and want to play with glitter, why not? Why should you feel the stigma of saying, ‘Oh, this should be shamed’, and going to a different location?”
The bill was opposed by some conservative groups and members of the Republican Party. Republican state Senator Melissa Melendez, who voted against the bill, said, “I don’t think parents need the government to step in and tell them how they should shop for their children”.
Published on 2021-10-11