California has introduced a bill to make kids‘ sections in large department stores gender-neutral. If it passes, childcare items like clothing and toys would be located in gender-neutral sections from Jan. 1, 2024.
Assembly Bill 2826 would apply to retailers with 500 or more employees, who would be required “to maintain undivided areas of its sales floor where, if it sells childcare articles, children’s clothing, or toys, all childcare items, all clothing for children, or all toys, regardless of whether a particular item has traditionally been marketed for either girls or for boys, shall be displayed,” the bill says.
State Assemblymember Evan Low, who chairs the California Legislative LGBT Caucus, is co-sponsoring the bill, along with member Cristina Garcia, who chairs the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.
“Let kids be kids,” Low tweeted on March 6.
— Evan Low (@Evan_Low) March 6, 2021
“Rather than having a separate boys’ or girls’ section, let’s just have a kids’ section,” Low said to KPIX-TV San Francisco. “And that’s what the conversation is about. Let’s make sure that we remove the kind of stigma, the type of bullying that we still see, especially in this day and age.”
He also explained that the bill was originally due to be introduced last year, but was put on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“While I strongly believe that the policy behind the bill is important, we must all consider the current climate with COVID-19 and focus on issues that are related. The policy behind this bill is not only important in regards to addressing perceived societal norms but also ensuring that prejudice and judgment do not play a prominent role in our children’s lives,” Low said in May 2020. “I look forward to working on this issue in the future.”
He said he was partly inspired by Target’s decision in 2015 to get rid of “boy” and “girl” sections in their stores. On March 7, Low shared an article covering Target’s big change, and his caption implied that other stores had a long way to go to catch up.
“Bravo @Target! Oh, wait. This was done 6 years ago?” he wrote on Twitter.
— Evan Low (@Evan_Low) March 7, 2021
If the bill is passed, stores that violate the policy would face fines up to $1,000. The law would also prohibit stores from using signs that indicate whether a particular product is for boys or girls. It would only apply to stores that had 500 employees or more.
Research has shown that gendering toys can harm development by shunting children onto a particular track that prevents them from exploring and learning new skills in different areas. And many parents welcome the law change.
“As a mom of two toddlers, if I have a boy and a girl, having it centralized where I don’t have to run around the store is a great idea,” Chloe Gannage, from Paso Robles, told KSBY.
Another parent and mom of a child who is transgender, Julia Burnett, said if the bill passed, it would help to break down gender stereotypes.
“I’m in favor of combining things and then people can choose,” she told KPIX 5. “Kids can choose.”
The bill is being debated in committee, as of March 7. If accepted, it must pass the California Legislature before it can become a law.