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California bill could ban gendered children’s sections in large retailers

Lily Wakefield March 7, 2021
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Gendered children's clothes

If the bill passes, stores would have to pay $1,000 if they display children’s products in gendered sections. (Envato)

A bill has been introduced in California which would require large retailers to stop marketing kids’ products as gendered.

According to the Legislative Counsel’s digest of the bill, Assembly Bill 1084 would require retailers with 500 or more employees “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.”

If a childcare product, item of kids’ clothing or toy is placed anywhere else on the store’s floor, the bill would ban any signs “that indicate that it is either for girls or for boys”.

If a retail store has a physical location in California, it will also be prohibited from gendering children’s products for sale online, and will have to title that section of the website using a gender-neutral term.

The bill states: “Keeping similar items that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys separated… incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate.

If passed, beginning on 1 January 2024, any store that violates the rule will be subject to a $1,000 (£723) fine.

California state assembly member Evan Low, who is also chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, co-authored the bill with assembly member Cristina Garcia, who chairs the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.

Low shared news of the bill on Twitter, writing: “Let kids be kids.”

He explained to KPIX: “Rather than having a separate boy’s or girl’s section, let’s just have a kid’s section.

“Let’s make sure that we remove the kind of stigma, the type of bullying that we still see, especially in this day and age.”

Low also told The Sacramento Bee that the bill had been inspired by Target, which did away with gendered children’s sections in 2015, and by a staffer’s young daughter who was forced to look in the “boy’s” section of shops to find science-related toys.

“That was the impetus of this, which is how do we make a safe space today for children in society,” he said.

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