Starting January 1, large California retailers with over 500 employees will be subject to a penalty of up to $500 if they don’t establish a gender-neutral section for toys and childcare products, as mandated by a new state law.
This law, signed in 2021 by Governor Gavin Newsom, requires these stores to create designated areas for gender-neutral toys and childcare items for children up to 12 years old. The law defines childcare items as products intended for children’s sleep, relaxation, feeding, or to assist with sucking or teething. Traditional sections for boys’ and girls’ toys will still be allowed, but stores will also be required to set up an additional gender-neutral section.
After January 1, 2024, non-compliance with the law will lead to civil fines ranging from $250 for initial violations to $500 for further breaches. It will be enforced through legal proceedings initiated by the state attorney general, district attorney, or city attorney.
The bill originally outlawed retail stores from displaying children’s clothes and toys according to sex. It was later altered to just require a gender-neutral section for children’s clothes and toys, and altered again to remove the gender-neutral section for clothes requirement. The original bill was inspired by an 8-year-old girl who didn’t like stores telling her what clothes and toys she should wear and play with.
“Unjustified differences in similar products that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys can be more easily identified by the consumer if similar items are displayed closer to one another in one, undivided area of the retail sales floor,” reads the text of the law. “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 legislation also stipulates that “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.”
Democrat Assemblyman Evan Low, who authored the bill, said, “We need to stop stigmatizing what’s acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids.”
“My hope is this bill encourages more businesses across California and the U.S. to avoid reinforcing harmful and outdated stereotypes,” Low said in 2021.
Greg Burt, CFC Vice President, believes the law violates the First Amendment.
“This is government-compelled speech,” Burt said. “This law tells private business owners, who might be Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, that they must communicate a government-sponsored message about gender when they display and market children’s toys. That is illegal.” .
“This law will open a Pandora’s Box,” he continued. “Now activists will never stop advocating for additional bills to punish companies whose gender messaging isn’t woke enough.”
This bill undoubtedly infringes upon the First Amendment rights of free speech and free press and introduces even more gender confusion in California.
Unsurprisingly, it is also entirely illogical, even according to the worldview of LGBTQ activists. Initially, the bill posits that gender stereotypes shouldn’t influence what toys or clothes children use, and therefore gender-neutral sections are necessary. However, the core premise of gender ideology is that stereotypes determine one’s gender.
Ultimately, this bill both violates fundamental rights and promotes a dangerous ideology that denies God’s good design for human sexuality. Consumers should make their voices heard by boycotting these sections of stores.