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New California law mandates gender-neutral toy sections in stores

Stores who fail to meet the requirements by Jan. 1, 2024 face fines starting at $250.
/ Source: TODAY

A new law in California will require some retailers to have gender-neutral toy sections for kids.

On Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1084, which requires large retailers to create non-gendered children's sections in stores by 2024.

"A retail department store that offers childcare items or toys for sale shall maintain a gender-neutral section or area, to be labeled at the discretion of the retailer, in which 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," the bill reads.

Stores who fail to meet the requirements by Jan. 1, 2024 face a $250 fine for their first offense, and $500 for subsequent violations. It applies only to "retail department stores that are physically located in California that have a total of 500 or more employees across all California retail department store locations."

The new legislation was introduced by lawmakers Cristina Garcia and Evan Low, who said he was inspired to write the bill by the 10-year-old daughter of one of his staffers. AP reported the girl asked her mom why certain items in a store were "off limits" to her because she was a girl.

“We need to stop stigmatizing what’s acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids,” Low told AP. “My hope is this bill encourages more businesses across California and the U.S. to avoid reinforcing harmful and outdated stereotypes.”

Just days after California's new law was signed, Danish toy-making giant Lego pledged to remove gender bias from its toys after research found girls were being held back by gender stereotypes.

“The company will ensure any child, regardless of gender identity, feels they can build anything they like,” Lego said in a statement.