There’s a lot more we understand about gender now than we did decades ago. And while we are still learning, many changes are helping to shift some outdated beliefs. One of those is the concept of “girl toys” and “boy toys.” And California is the first state in the US to adopt a law on how toys are sectioned in a large retail store, now requiring a gender neutral section. Here’s what you need to know.
According to Los Angeles Times, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new bill requiring large retail stores to provide gender-neutral toy sections. The law, which takes effect in 2024, states that retail stores with 500 or more employees “must sell some toys and child-care products outside of areas specifically labeled by gender.”
Assemblyman Evan Low introduced Assembly Bill 1084, which was inspired after a staffer’s daughter asked why she had to go to the “boys section” to find certain toys. The bill continues a shift in the industry to move away from the archaic gender stereotypes in toys and marketing to kids.
“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,” Evan 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?”
The Consumer Federation of California supports the new law. “Keeping similar items that are traditionally marketed either for girls or boys separated makes it more difficult for the consumer to compare the products and incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate,” the federation wrote, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Retailers in California can continue to hold “boy” or “girl” sections; however, there must also be a non-gendered section. Companies that fail to comply when it becomes law in 2024 could face penalties. This includes a civil penalty of $250 for the first violation and $500 for any subsequent violations.
According to the New York Times, Target announced in 2015 that it would no longer use gendered labels for its toy sections. And it hasn’t since that went into effect. In addition, the Disney Store removed gendered labels from Halloween costumes, backpacks, lunch boxes, and other accessories. Amazon reportedly stopped using gender-based categories around the same time, too.