Connecting state and local government leaders
A proposal in California would require certain department stores to eliminate boy- and girl-specific departments for toys, clothing and childcare items in an attempt to "let kids be kids."
Department stores in California would be required to sell children’s items, including toys and clothing, in gender-neutral spaces rather than in boys’ and girls’ sections under a proposal introduced last month in the state’s legislature.
“Clothing and toys sections of department stores that are separated along gender lines pigeonhole children,” Low said in a statement. “No child should feel stigmatized for wearing a dinosaur shirt or playing with a Barbie doll.”
Separating items that are typically marketed to either girls or boys can also make it difficult for consumers to compare products and prices, Low said, and “incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate.”
As introduced, the legislation would require that department stores with 500 or more employees “maintain one, undivided area” to display children’s clothing, toys and childcare items, “regardless of whether a particular item has traditionally been marketed for either girls or for boys.”
Stores would have 30 days to correct violations of the policy, after which they could face a $1,000 civil penalty.
The California Retailers Association has not listed a position on the legislation and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The proposal comes five years after Target announced it would seek to “phase out gender-based signage” in certain areas of the store, including the kids’ bedding and toy sections, to “help strike a better balance.”
Low said his bill was inspired by one of his employee’s children, who asked why a store should be able to decide what “a girl’s shirt or toy is.”
“Her bill will help children express themselves freely and without bias,” he said. “We need to let kids be kids.”
The bill is currently awaiting a committee hearing, which could happen as soon as March 22, according to the legislature’s website.
Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent with Route Fifty.
NEXT STORY: Our Blind Spot on Election Security