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Gender neutral toy sections coming to California department stores

Gender Neutral Toy Sections California

California became the first state to require large department stores display gender neutral toy sections, among other products, a win for LGBTQ advocates who say the pink and blue colors of traditional marketing methods pressure children to conform to gender stereotypes. Photo: Jon Viscott/City of West Hollywood

California became the first state to require large department stores display gender neutral toy sections, among other products, a win for LGBTQ advocates who say the pink and blue colors of traditional marketing methods pressure children to conform to gender stereotypes.

AB 1084, Gender Neutral Retail Departments, was signed into law Saturday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

It does not outlaw traditional boys and girls sections at department stores. Instead, it says large stores must also have a gender neutral section to display “a reasonable selection” of items “regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys.”

Clothes are not included.

The law only applies to toys and “childcare items,” such as hygiene and teething products.

The law only applies to stores with 500 employees, such as large retailers.

The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2024.

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“Keeping similar items that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys separated makes it more difficult for the consumer to compare the products and incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate,” the law states.

Assemblyman Evan Low, (D-San Jose) authored the bill.

It was the third time Democrats in the state Legislature have tried to pass this law, with similar bills failing in 2019 and 2020.

Low said he was inspired by the 10-year-old daughter of one of his staffers, who asked her mom why certain items in the store were “off limits” to her because she was a girl.

“We need to stop stigmatizing what’s acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids,” Low said in a statement. “My hope is this bill encourages more businesses across California and the U.S. to avoid reinforcing harmful and outdated stereotypes.”

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While California is the first state to require this, some large department stores have already changed how they display their products.

For example, Target Corp., with 1,915 stores across the United States, announced in 2015 it would stop using some gender-based signs in its locations.

The law was opposed by some Republicans and some conservative groups, who said the government should not tell parents how to shop for their children.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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