Retail stores in California may need to become more gender neutral under the proposed legislation.
State lawmakers are debating a new bill banning department stores with more than 500 employees from segregating products for children by gender.
The restriction would prohibit separate areas and signage, and require online retailers with a physical location in the state to use gender-neutral terms to identify children’s items on a section of their websites. That would apply to toys and other children’s items at this point, but not clothing, bill co-author Cristina Garcia told USA Today.
If passed, the law will take effect January 1, 2024 and will be fined $ 1,000 for violations.
The proposal, launched on February 18, follows a series of recent measures advocated by LGBTQ advocates. Last month, Hasbro made its Potato Head brand gender neutral and Congress passed an expansion of the Equality Act to include protection for the LGBTQ community.
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For Garcia, legislation is about “not restricting us and our children to certain boxes”.
“It’s really important that the toy and children’s departments are neutral in order to give kids so many opportunities to express themselves and be creative,” said Garcia, a Democrat who heads the California Women’s Legislative Caucus. “We should allow our children to explore and try different things and let them come to their own conclusion on how they will identify.”
Rep. Evan Low, another Democrat who first introduced a version of California’s law in 2020, said in an earlier statement that he was inspired by Britten, an 8-year-old child, to co-draft the law.
According to Low, Britten asked, “Why would a store tell me what a girl’s shirt or toy is?”
“We have to let kids be kids,” said Low, who heads the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. “Your calculation will help children express themselves freely and without prejudice.”
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“Department store clothing and toy departments that are segregated by sex put children in drawers,” he added. “No child should feel stigmatized wearing a dinosaur shirt or playing with a Barbie doll.”
The previous version of the bill was drawn by Low so lawmakers could focus on its response to the then-new coronavirus, according to Sacramento Bee.
Some retailers have already adopted gender neutral measures in their stores.
In 2015, Target announced the removal of gender indicators from some of its areas, such as: B. Children’s bedding and toys. The clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch launched a gender-neutral children’s collection in 2018.
Proponents of the LGBTQ community stressed that such measures are necessary as it is important that people are themselves and that their self-identification is respected.
“How people identify themselves is important to their life in the world,” Alphonso David, president of the human rights campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group and lobby group, told USA TODAY earlier.
David said progress had been made in recent inclusion efforts.
“What we are seeing is a combination of heightened awareness and mobilization from our communities across the country,” said David. “People understand that equality is a profitable topic.”