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A California law described as “nannyish overreach” that takes effect next month requires major retailers to have a gender-neutral section for toys and child care items.
The 2021 law, which won the approval of Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom, requires California department stores with 500 or more employees to create a gender-neural section of toys “regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys,” according to the New York Post.
The gender-neutral edict also covers items to feed children, help them sleep, and other related products. Although the law allows retailers to have sections themed for boys and girls, unless one exists that is gender-neutral, businesses face a fine of $250 for the first violation, and $500 for each subsequent violation.
“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,” Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low, who sponsored the legislation, said when it was signed into law, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“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?” Low said.
But at a time when toymakers had already explored filling that gender neutral niche — though perhaps more in the name of profits than ideology — the law has become a target for criticism.
“Retail stores are very attuned to the supply and demand of their merchandise, and they are very aware of the clientele they serve. We do not believe it is the role of the California Legislature to overstep the natural process of the free market,” the Capitol Resource Institute according to The Washington Post.
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