California Governor Gavin Newsom had signed a new law mandating big retail stores with over 500 workers to establish a gender-neutral toy section. Shops that fail to comply with the law will be slapped with a fine.
Assembly Bill 1084 mandates large-scale retailers to offer and market toys and other children's products like clothes and shoes without labels for boys or girls by January 1, 2024. Companies who fail to establish this section may be fined $250 for the first violation and $500 for the next oversights.
Representatives Cristina Garcia and Evan Low wrote the legislation based on Low's encounter with a staff member's 10-year-old daughter, who asked her mother why she couldn't have some toys because of her gender. From that question, Low drew inspiration to write a law that would end "stigmatizing" what children can enjoy. The lawmakers also believed that gender-neutral toys should be normalized. The adults must let kids play whatever they like.
"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 in an interview with Los Angeles Times. "Similarly, if you're a boy, if you're more artistic and want to play with glitter, why not?"
It's Common Sense
Low, the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus chairman, said that sometimes, the children's way of thinking provides more common sense than the adults. He also strongly felt that California should lead in showing values like inclusion and diversity.
The law came more than five years after Target, one of the largest department stores in the U.S., announced that it will be phasing out its gender-based labels and signs at all of its outlets. The decision was based on various customer feedback against classifying children's items by girl or boy.
Hasbro, a famous toymaker, also decided to redesign Mr. Potato Head as a gender-neutral toy and has re-established the well-loved toy as simply Potato Head. LEGO also announced that it would shift to market its toys without gender bias and stereotypes during the observance of International Day of the Girl on October 11.
The LEGO Study
A study on LEGO toys involving 7,000 parents with children ages six to 14 years old revealed that more girls feel restrained with creative play using the brick games as the brand has been generally considered a toy for boys. More than 59 percent of parents said they encouraged their sons to play with LEGO, while only 48 percent said they wanted their daughters to explore the popular Danish children's toy.
Over 71 percent of parents also confessed that they have concerns that their sons might be ridiculed if they play with girls' toys, while only 42 percent of girls' parents have similar concerns.
LEGO said in a statement that it wanted to actively remove these gender biases by working with UNICEF and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
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