A new bill in the California state assembly would ban stores from separating their toys, clothing and childcare items into boys’ and girls’ sections and would fine them $1,000 if they did so.
The bill, sponsored by Democratic Assemblymember Evan Low (Silicon Valley), says each “retail department store shall maintain one, undivided area of its sales floor where, if it sells toys, all toys, regardless of whether a particular item has traditionally been marketed for either girls or for boys, shall be displayed.”
The bill, AB2826, includes similar language for clothing and “childcare articles” such as pacifiers. It would apply only to retail chains with 500 or more employees, with each violation costing $1,000.
A legislative counsel’s digest accompanying the bill makes clear its intent.
“This bill would require a retail department store … 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 digest says.
The goal is to have a “gender-neutral” retail department, the bill says.
A press release from Low’s office said children should not feel “stigmatized for wearing a dinosaur shirt or playing with a Barbie doll.” Separating toys and clothes by gender “makes it more difficult for the consumer to compare products,” the release added. It also “incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate,” the press release said.
“I was inspired to introduce this bill after 8-year-old Britten asked, ‘Why should a store tell me what a girl’s shirt or toy is?’” Low said.
The bill would “help children express themselves freely and without bias,” he added.
“We need to let kids be kids,” Low said.
But Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute-Center for Public Policy, said the bill should be defeated.
“California is killing freedom, innovation, and common sense with its endless bans, fines, and mandates,” Dacus said. “Compassion for our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors does not require us to embrace absurdities on gender. No child should be bullied or stigmatized, and neither should the State bully retailers into making it harder for moms and dads to find boys and girls clothing and toys. It’s time for voters to demand more accountability of their elected officials.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.