A California lawmaker introduced a bill to make department stores gender-neutral for kids. This will prevent stores’ toy sections from segregating children’s products aisles by gender. Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) introduced AB 2826 last week. This bill proposes fines for California department stores if they separated floors between boys’ and girls’ items. Under the proposed law, stores need to keep similar products, childcare items, clothes, and toys, together in a gender-neutral undivided area.
Gender Neutral For Kids
Low’s bill argues that “unjustified differences” markets many similar products either for boys or for girls. The bill aims to highlight these similarities. In effect, the bill makes it easier for consumers to compare products. Consequently, retailers that sell toys, children’s clothes, and items will need to devote floor space to gender-neutral items marketed to both genders.
If approved, the bill will eliminate the “Boys Section” and “Girl Section” common in department stores. This means that by 2023, department stores with 500 or more employees will need to apply AB 2826’s provisions. Stores can still sell the same products as long as they maintain areas where customers can find gender-neutral items. Otherwise, department stores that fail to implement the rule will pay a fine of $1,000 if no action is taken within 30 days of notice.
Express Themselves Without Bias
Low, the chair of the Legislative LGBT Caucus, said he drafted the bill to make stores gender-neutral for kids at an early age. Also, it provides a more inclusive shopping experience for children. The idea came from his staff, whose young daughter asked why some items she wanted were in the boy’s section. “This is an issue of children being able to express themselves without bias,” Low said in an interview Friday.
Meanwhile, toy manufacturers and stores faced a growing backlash against gender-specific toys and clothing. Advocacy groups, including the international Let Toys, Be Toys, argue that gender-specific merchandising promotes stereotypes on who should play with certain toys. Also, this makes children feel shame if they prefer a toy that doesn’t conform to their gender. In fact, Target announced in 2015 that it will stop gender-based labeling of toys under pressure from consumer advocates.
Eliminating the Pink Tax
Meanwhile, other California lawmakers are also considering filing a bill that makes it illegal to charge extra for toys and items marketed to females. Commonly known as a pink tax, it’s a store’s tendency to make products marketed for women more expensive compared to the same item marketed to men. While either gender can buy either product, the price difference remains.
Watch the KSBY News video reporting that a proposed California bill calls for gender-neutral toy and clothing aisles in department stores:
Do you agree that toys and other children’s items should be gender-neutral? Will this bill allow more kids to buy toys without feeling ashamed of crossing genders? Tell us what you think about the gender gap in toys and other children’s items. Share your comments below.