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California Bill Would Force Stores to Eliminate ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ Sections, Become Gender Neutral

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A gender bill in California would ban signage for “boys” and “girls” in toy and childcare sections. The idea behind the legislation is that these departments would be recognized as “gender neutral” and not be sex-segregated in the name of gender justice.

This bill would specifically target department stores. That is, those stores that have more than 500 employees.

“In the state of California, where we hope to inspire, for example, more girls to pursue science, engineering and math, we want to make sure that periodic tables and dinosaurs are not in the children’s section,” said Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) who is pushing this bill.

Low, who is chairman of the LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, is working hand-in-hand with Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), who is leader of the Women’s Legislative Caucus.

According to the Los Angeles Times, this Assembly Bill No. 1084 was introduced on February 18th and now lies in committee. Here, California state lawmakers are carefully evaluating whether or not to allow separate sections for children’s clothing based on gender. But it is not yet known what will happen on this point.

What the bill would certainly cover is maintaining the gender-neutral requirement for toys.

Cristina Garcia, a former Math teacher, “said that as a child she wanted to play with Lincoln Logs, but was sometimes discouraged because they were considered a boy’s toy. But that kind of play can develop spatial ability, which has been linked to better performance in science, technology, engineering and math, fields in which girls and women are often underrepresented” according to the Los Angeles Times review.

On the other hand, Low said the inspiration for the project was related to the 9-year-old daughter of a staff member. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the girl complained “to her mother that she had to go to the boys’ section to find toys she liked in Science and Math.”

“At such a young age, why would we want to prevent a child from going into carpentry or becoming a firefighter?” said Assemblyman Low. “All of these items could be listed in the children’s section.”

Low also compared this bill “to efforts to establish gender-neutral bathrooms, prohibit retailers from charging more for items marketed to women, and require women on corporate boards.”

No more boys’ and girls’ sections

The bill is quite clear and begins, “Existing law, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, specifies that all persons within the jurisdiction of the state are free and equal, and no matter their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status, are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind.”

It later goes on to say “This bill would require a retail department store with 500 or more employees that sells childcare items, children’s clothing, or toys, to maintain undivided areas of its sales floor where the majority of those items being offered are displayed, regardless of whether an item has traditionally been marketed for either girls or for boys.”

This would strictly prohibit certain sections in the toy area from being marked for “boys” or “girls,” and those who fail to comply with the requirement and ignore the warnings could face fines of $1,000. The bill, if passed, would take effect as of January 2024.

“This bill would also require a retail department store located in California that maintains an internet website through which it sells childcare items, children’s clothing, or toys, to dedicate a section of the internet website to the sale of those items and articles that is titled, at the discretion of the retailer, ‘kids’, ‘unisex’, or ‘gender neutral’, as specified,” it continues.

The law clearly intends to create a more “inclusive” environment in children’s areas, but it also reveals a strong interference in the affairs of private businesses.

The first paragraph of the statements reads as follows: “Unjustified differences in similar products that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys can be more easily identified by the consumer if similar items are displayed closer to one another in one, undivided area of the retail sales floor.”

In this way, the state, or the law, intrudes on private business by telling it how to signpost within its property some of its sections. All in the name of gender justice.

In fact, the law itself says that they will not interfere in how businesses display their products or signage. Except in the cases of children’s clothing, toys and childcare items.

“Nothing in this section shall be construed to constrain how a retailer promotes, displays, or presents a particular item within each undivided area of its sales floor where either childcare items, children’s clothing, or toys are being offered for sale. However, no signage shall be used within any undivided area where either childcare items, children’s clothing, or toys are offered for sale indicating the items are for either girls or for boys.”

An act to add Part 2.57 (commencing with Section 55.7) to Division 1 of the Civil Code, relating to civil rights.

While the assembly members who proposed this bill focused on talking about the “issue” of toys being marked for boys or girls, the reality is that the first draft of the bill also talks about issues such as clothing: “A retail department store that offers childcare items for sale shall maintain one undivided area of its sales floor where the majority of the childcare items being offered shall be displayed, regardless of whether a particular childcare item has been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys.”

We will have to wait to see if, ultimately, the issue of children’s clothing is also considered for the division into boys’ and girls’ sections or if, on the contrary, only toys and childcare products are considered.

Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.

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1 thought on “California Bill Would Force Stores to Eliminate ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ Sections, Become Gender Neutral”

  1. As someone who had worked in such places, this will be a bigger deal than just California. The overhaul of the entire manufacturing and distributing system will be a start, all the way up to Hasbro companies. Shipments are packaged accordingly to which aisle they are to be included. The boxes are printed in colors according to aisle, the computer systems to track packages will need an overhaul, and that is the top of the iceberg since individual companies label their clothing according to sex. How else would skater girls know where to buy the boys pants so they can look cool?? 😉

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