‘Gender Neutral Retail’? Calif. Bill Would Fine Large Stores for Separating Boys and Girls Toys, Clothing

Children's ClothingSACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Democratic lawmaker in California has proposed a bill that would require large retail stores in the state to combine boys and girls clothing departments, as well as their boys and girls toy sections, into un-gendered areas, asserting that separating the sexes “incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate.”

Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Silicon Valley, recently introduced Assembly Bill 2826, which would add a section to state law entitled “Gender Neutral Retail Departments.”

“This bill would require a retail department store with 500 or more employees to maintain undivided areas of its sales floor where, if it sells childcare articles, children’s clothing, or toys, all childcare items, all clothing for children, or all toys, regardless of whether a particular item has traditionally been marketed for either girls or for boys, shall be displayed,” a summary of the legislation outlines.

In providing a justification for the measure, the bill claims that “[k]eeping similar items that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys separated makes it more difficult for the consumer to compare the products and incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate.”

Low also asserted in a press release, with the subject line of “Let Kids Be Kids,” that “[c]lothing and toys sections of department stores that are separated along gender lines pigeonhole children. No child should feel stigmatized for wearing a dinosaur shirt or playing with a Barbie doll …”

He noted that Target has already removed gender-based signs in some of its stores.

Read the press release in full here.

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The proposal consequently requires retail outlets with 500 or more employees to keep children’s clothing and toys in “one, undivided area of its sales floor … regardless of whether a particular item has traditionally been marketed for either girls or for boys.”

If passed, the measure would take effect in 2023, and retailers would be given a written warning after a violation is detected. Those who do not comply and correct the matter within 30 days would face civil liability of $1,000 via legal action by the state attorney general’s office.

Read the bill in full here.

Low says that the idea for the bill came from the eight-year-old daughter of one of his staff members, who said that she didn’t like store telling her “what a girl’s shirt or toy is” and suggested he propose a law against it.

If allowed to move forward in committee, the legislation could have a hearing this month.

“We want to raise our daughter to know she’s a girl: that’s how she was born, that’s how she will live — and our sons, that they were born boys,” one woman who was interviewed by television station KSBY stated. “I want my daughter to dress like a girl, and I want my boys to dress like boys, and I want those sections to be separated.”

The California-based Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) has also expressed opposition to the measure, advising that residents should take the matter seriously and not dismiss it as simply having no chance of adoption. Low previously proposed a bill banning counseling for youth struggling with homosexuality and gender dysphoria, and it passed in both houses before Low withdrew it.

“California is killing freedom, innovation, and common sense with its endless bans, fines, and mandates. Compassion for our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors does not require us to embrace absurdities on gender,” President Brad Dacus remarked in a statement.

“No child should be bullied or stigmatized, and neither should the State bully retailers into making it harder for moms and dads to find boys and girls clothing and toys.”

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