California Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) signed a new law Saturday mandating that many large retail stores offer some toys in gender-neutral sections, a move advocates say encourages children to consider toys without taking into account gender stereotypes.
“This bill would require a retail department store that is physically located in California that has a total of 500 or more employees across all California retail department store locations that sells childcare items or toys to maintain a gender neutral section or area, to be labeled at the discretion of the retailer, in which a reasonable selection of the items and toys for children that it sells shall be displayed, regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys,” reads the law.
It’s unclear how large the gender-neutral section has to be to satisfy the “reasonable selection” requirements.
The law will go into effect in 2024 and will bring with it a possible $250 fine for a first violation, and up to a $500 fine for each subsequent violation. The California state legislature suggests that the law may keep consumers from “incorrectly” believing that a given toy may be “inappropriate” for one gender and not the other.
“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,” said state Assemblyman Evan Low (D-CA), who introduced the legislation, according to the Los Angeles Times. “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?”
Newsom, who recently won his recall election, did not release a statement on the bill after signing it, aside from announcing that it and dozens of other bills had been signed.
One notable law, AB 1346, will ban retailers from selling gas-powered lawnmowers as early as 2024 — even though, according to Andrew Bray of the National Association of Landscaping Professionals, the zero-emissions versions currently cost more than twice as much as conventional gas versions, reports The Los Angeles Times.
State Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-CA), who authored the legislation, has called the law “a pretty modest approach.”
“It’s amazing how people react when they learn how much this equipment pollutes, and how much smog forming and climate changing emissions that small off-road engine equipment creates,” said Berman, reports the L.A. Times. “This is a pretty modest approach to trying to limit the massive amounts of pollution that this equipment emits, not to mention the health impact on the workers who are using it constantly.”