Proposed California Bill Would Make Kids Sections In Stores Gender Neutral

by Julie Scagell
gender neutral kid section california bill
KPIX CBS 5, Evan Low/Twitter

If passed, stores would have until 2024 to make the changes

A bill has been introduced in California that would make kids sections in big department stores gender neutral. If the bill passes, clothing, toys, and other childcare items would be located in gender neutral sections beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

The bill would require retailers with 500 or more employees “to maintain undivided areas of its sales floor where, if it sells childcare articles, children’s clothing, or toys, all childcare items, all clothing for children, or all toys, regardless of whether a particular item has traditionally been marketed for either girls or for boys, shall be displayed.”

“Let kids be kids,” tweeted State Assembly member Evan Low, who chairs the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. Low is co-sponsoring Assembly Bill 2826 along with member Cristina Garcia, who chairs the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.

“Rather than having a separate boys or girls section, let’s just have a kids section,” Low told KPIX-TV San Francisco. “And that’s what the conversation is about.”

Low was originally set to introduce the bill last year, but it was put on hold during the pandemic.

“While I strongly believe that the policy behind the bill is important, we must all consider the current climate with COVID-19 and focus on issues that are related. The policy behind this bill is not only important in regards to addressing perceived societal norms but also ensuring that prejudice and judgment does not play a prominent role in our children’s lives,” he said in May 2020. “I look forward to working on this issue in the future.”

“As a mom of two toddlers, if I have a boy and a girl, having it centralized where I don’t have to run around the store is a great idea,” Chloe Gannage, a Paso Robles mom, told KSBY.

Another parent and mother of a child who is transgender, Julia Burnett, said if the bill passed, it would be a welcome change to breaking down gender stereotypes.

“I’m in favor of combining things and then people can choose. Kids can choose,” she told KPIX 5.

Parent-led grassroots organizations such as Let Toys Be Toys and No Gender December have been working on this movement for years. The goal is to educate parents and corporations and help them understand that gendered toy segregation can make kids feel needlessly ashamed of wanting to buy and play with toys not traditionally deemed “appropriate” by some, like chemistry sets for girls, or play kitchens and dress up clothes for boys.

The bill would also prohibit stores from displaying signage that indicates whether a particular product is for boys or girls.

Low said he was inspired in part by Target’s decision in 2015 to eliminate kids sections that say for boy or girl. If passed, stores that violate the policy would face fines up to $1,000 under this bill.