Big retailers in California will now have to offer gender-neutral toy aisles
Author: Alex Bollinger
Gender-neutral toy aisles will now be required in large stores like Target in California as a new law has gone into effect with the new year.
The bill was introduced by out Assemblymember Evan Low (D), who said that an eight-year-old asked him, “Why should a store tell me what a girl’s shirt or toy is?” That inspired him to introduce the bill.
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“Her bill will help children express themselves freely and without bias. We need to let kids be kids,” he said.
The law won’t force stores to get rid of separate boys’ and girls’ toy sections. Instead, it just requires large stores to add another section that’s gender-neutral, something that many retailers have already been doing.
Target, for example, announced in 2015 that it would start removing gender labeling in some departments, including its toy department.
“As guests have pointed out, in some departments like toys, home, or entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary,” the retail giant said at the time. “We heard you, and we agree. Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance.”
Toys R Us dropped boys’ and girls’ categories from its online stores in 2015 as well, before it declared bankruptcy several years later. Today, consumers can search toys by age group, brand, or category, like “games & puzzles” or “learning.”
“This is one of a range of changes they’ve made over the last couple of years to market toys more inclusively, such as more informative in-store signage (dolls instead of ‘girls’ for example) and organizing toys more logically (Lego Friends with other Lego under ‘construction,’ instead of under ‘girls’),” Jess Day from Let Toys Be Toys, an organization that opposes gender stereotypes, said at the time.
Some rightwingers are upset by the new law in California.
“We should all have compassion for individuals experiencing gender dysphoria,” Jonathan Keller of the conservative Christian California Family Council said in a statement, even though the law is not specifically about helping trans kids. “But activists and state legislators have no right to force retailers to espouse government-approved messages about sexuality and gender. It’s a violation of free speech and it’s just plain wrong.”
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Author: Alex Bollinger