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California becomes first state to require gender-neutral toy section

California becomes first state to require gender-neutral toy section
The law doesn't prohibit stores from having traditional boys and girls' sections, but requires a "reasonable selection" of toys in a gender neutral area.  File Photo by Bill Grenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 11 (UPI) -- California has become the first state to require large retailers to provide a gender-neutral toy section.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law over the weekend. The provision requires retailers with 500 or more employees to have a gender-neutral section for toys.

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Enforcement of the law will begin in 2024.

Democratic assemblyman Evan Low, a co-sponsor of the bill, said it represents a shift from marketing children's products with gender stereotypes.

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"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," Low said. "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?"

The Phluid Project, a gender-neutral brand and supporter of the bill, wrote that it "supports policies that empower consumers while creating safe and affirming spaces."

"This bill will allow consumers, both parents and children to allow for creating and freedom of self-expression," the group said.

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Retailers who don't comply can be fined.

The law doesn't prohibit stores from having traditional boys and girls' sections, but requires a "reasonable selection" of toys in a gender neutral area.

"Keeping 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," the law states.

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The Consumer Federation of California, which backed the bill, said that "separating products by gender also helps to disguise the unfortunate fact that female products are often priced higher than male products."

Lawmakers passed the bill last month after amending it to strike language that applied to children's clothing.

Opponents argued that stores are private businesses and ought to be free from government mandates over how products are displayed.

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