California is moving toward gender neutral retail under the new law

California became the first state in the country on Saturday to enact a law requiring large retail stores to provide neutral toy sections under a bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.

The new law, which will take effect in 2024, states that retail stores with 500 or more employees must sell certain toys and child care products outside of areas specifically labeled gender. Retailers can continue to offer other toys and child care goods in the traditional male and female sections if they choose.

Newsom did not offer comment about signing the bill, one of many announced in the last group of legislative actions weighed in for a year.

Assembly Bill 1084 continues a gradual shift in the retail industry away from strictly marketing children’s products under traditional gender stereotypes, said Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), who introduced legislation. The target fell to the men’s and women’s toy sections in 2015, and other retailers switched from gender -specific labels.

“Part of it is to make sure if you’re a girl you can find a police car, a fire truck, a periodic table or a dinosaur,” Low said. “And then similarly, if you’re male, if you’re more artistic and you want to play brilliance, why not? Why do you feel the stigma of saying, ‘Oh, it should be embarrassing’ and going to another location?”

Low said the daughter of one of his staff inspired the bill when the maid asked why she had to go to the men’s section to find some toys.

“Kids have a unique way of saying things that gives some common sense,” Low said. “I think it’s important that we as a state demonstrate our values ​​of diversity and inclusion.”

Democratic lawmakers received criticism for the so -called nanny state governing as the measure was moved to the Legislature this year, with rivals arguing that the government should not tell a private company how to organize or display its merchandise. .

Campbell Leaper, a prominent psychology professor at UC Santa Cruz, said companies began using gender labels and pink and blue indicators to market products specifically to girls or boys during the 1940s and 1950s.

Research in developmental psychology says children are aware of gender categories since age 3 and are very sensitive to gender-based labels, he said.

“We know from a lot of different research once they have categories in their heads and if you have a label for girls or boys, kids often don’t notice it if it has labels for the opposite sex, ”Leaper said.

Children use toys to practice skills that will be useful in their lives, and stereotypes over what toys are acceptable for girls and boys can lead to variations in genders, he said.

Children learn spatial skills from construction toys, for example, which can help later when they learn math in school. Similarly, playing with house sets or dolls teaches children socio-emotional skills, which can improve their ability to communicate and build relationships, Leaper said.

“Nothing determines where a person ends up in life, but you know it all has a cumulative effect and, especially during childhood, kids spend too much time playing. toys that are their workshop when they grow up in terms of learning about different things, “he said. “It will help to nurture that interest early on.”

Leaper said the boys and girls section also creates a stigma for children who disagree with gender or discover other gender identities.

“But even for children who identify with their birth -designated gender there may be some children who want to play with some of the toys, but end up avoiding them because they don’t want to be considered abnormal somehow, “said Leaper.

Low compared her law to previous California laws that required publicly traded companies to add women to their corporate boards, forcing employers to release pay data to improve gender equality and require of many bathrooms with single dwellings that use “all genders” signs.

Retailers who do not comply with the new law will be subject to minimal civil penalties of $ 250 for a first violation and $ 500 for additional violations.

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