California became the first state to forcing large department stores to display merchandise such as toys and toothbrushes in a gender-neutral way.
The move marks a victory for LGBT activists who point out that shades of pink and blue in traditional marketing strategies push children to conform to gender stereotypes.
The new law, signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, does not prohibit the typical boys and girls sections of department stores. But it does envisage that large stores also have a gender neutral section where they display “a reasonable selection” of products “regardless of whether they have traditionally marketed them for girls and boys.”
The measure does not cover clothing. The law only applies to toys and “child care items” such as hygiene products and teeth. And it only applies to stores with at least 500 employees, which means that small businesses are exempt.
Assemblyman Evan Low, the San Jose Democrat who drafted the bill, said he was “incredibly grateful” that Newsom signed it this year. It was the third time Democrats in the state Legislature tried to pass the law after the failure of similar proposals in 2019 and 2020.
Low said she was inspired by the 10-year-old daughter of one of her staff who asked her mom why some items in the store were “excluded” for her because she was a girl.
“We must stop the stigmatization of what is acceptable for certain genders and let children be childrenLow pointed out. “My hope is that this initiative encourages more establishments in California and the United States to avoid reinforcing harmful and outdated stereotypes.”
Although California is the first state where the measure is mandatory, some large department stores have already changed the way they display their products.
Target Corp., which has 1,915 stores in the United States, announced in 2015 that its stores would stop using some gender-specific signs.
Some Republicans and conservative groups opposed the law, arguing that the government should not tell parents how to buy things for their children.
(With AP information)