On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law AB1084, requiring toy stores to have “gender-neutral retail departments,” so shoppers will not be encouraged to buy boy or girl toys, but only toys.
Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) authored the bill, declaring that products marketed to boys or girls are “unjustified,” and it is “inapposite” to imply they should choose one gender over another.
The bill reads,
(a) A retail department store that offers childcare items or toys for sale shall maintain a gender-neutral section or area, to be labeled at the discretion of the retailer, in which a reasonable selection of the items and toys for children that it sells shall be displayed, regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys.
(b) This section shall apply only to retail department stores that are physically located in California that have a total of 500 or more employees across all California retail department store locations. This section shall not apply to retail department stores that are physically located outside California.
(c) Beginning on January 1, 2024, a retail department store that fails to comply with this section is liable for a civil penalty, not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250) for a first violation or five hundred dollars ($500) for a subsequent violation, which may be assessed and recovered in a civil action brought in the name of the people of the State of California by the Attorney General, or a district attorney or city attorney, in any court of competent jurisdiction. If the Attorney General, district attorney, or city attorney prevails in an action under this subdivision, the court shall award to the Attorney General, district attorney, or city attorney reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
Stores can maintain boy’s and girl’s sections, as long as “gender-neutral” areas are created, it is unclear whether retailers could be punished for selling the same toy in gendered and gendered neural sections of the store.
Low told the Los Angeles Times: “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,” Low said. “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?”