California has become the first US state to require gender-neutral toy sections in large retail stores.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Saturday making it mandatory for toy stores with more than 500 employees to have a class of toys and childcare products that are not specified under any gender.
The law, which will go into effect by 2024, has been seen as a major victory for LGBT+ advocates, who have said marketing methods of colour-coded pink and blue reinforce gender stereotypes.
The law would not outlaw traditional girls’ and boys’ sections in stores, but mandates stores to display a “fair selection” of items “whether they have been traditionally marketed to girls or boys.”
Mr Newsom did not comment on the legislation after it was signed, but a Democrat state assembly member, Evan Low, who wrote the bill, said he was “incredibly grateful”. Los Angeles Times Newspaper.
“Part of this is to make sure that if you’re a young girl you can find a police car, a fire truck, a periodic table or a dinosaur,” Mr Low was quoted as saying.
“And then likewise, 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, it should be a shame’ and a different going to the place?”
He said it was the daughter of one of his staff members who inspired Bill when he questioned why he had to go to the boys’ class to find some toys he liked.
“Kids have a very unique way of saying things that offer some common sense,” Mr. Low said. “I think it’s important that we as a state are demonstrating our values of diversity and inclusion.”
The bill was passed despite opposition and criticism from Republicans and conservatives, who said the government should not dictate how private companies should display merchandise in their stores.
The Consumer Federation of California, a non-profit advocacy organization, supported the law, saying their use by gender in traditionally marketed items could be considered “inappropriate.”
The organization is quoted as saying, “Having similar items that are traditionally segregated for girls or for boys makes it more difficult for the consumer to compare products and unfairly means that Their use by one gender is inappropriate.” Fresno Bee Newspaper.
After two failed attempts in 2019 and 2020, Democrats attempted to pass the law for the third time.
However, some retail stores took the initiative to part with traditional displays long before the bill was signed into law.
Target, which has 1,915 stores across the US, announced in 2015 that it would no longer use gender-based markings in its stores.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk / California