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California Retailers Without Gender-Neutral Toy Sections Face Fines up to $500 Starting Jan. 1

California Retailers Without Gender-Neutral Toy Sections Face Fines up to $500 Starting Jan. 1

Toys line the shelves of a store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Sophie Li

Sophie Li

12/8/2023

Updated: 12/8/2023

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Large retailers will soon be subject to fines under a new California law that takes effect in a few weeks if they fail to designate a gender-neutral toy section.
Under a law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021, department stores with 500 or more employees in California that sell children’s products are required to include a gender-neutral area in the store. Those that fail to comply with the law will be fined up to $250 for the first violation or $500 for a subsequent violation.
“Creating a gender-neutral section will most definitely make all kids feel welcomed,” said bill author Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) in a bill analysis. “Unjustified differences in similar products ... can be more easily identified by the consumer if [they] are not separated by gender.”
The bill specifies that this requirement applies to products “regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys.”
Supporters said the bill allows parents and children “freedom of self-expression,” in the bill analysis.
Additionally, the Consumer Federation of California said that such a change could potentially help reduce price disparities between products marketed towards boys and girls.
“Separating products by gender also helps to disguise the unfortunate fact that female products are often priced higher than male products,” the organization wrote in the bill analysis.
However, Siskiyou Conservative Republicans, a political organization based in Siskiyou County in Northern California, opposed the law, arguing that it would interfere with the free market economy and would be an overreach by the government.
“Merchants are in the business to sell their goods not to do social engineering,” the organization said in the bill analysis. “It is not the business of the state to parent their constituent’s children nor to dictate to businesses how to organize or display their merchandise.”
Though it’s unclear how much it would cost the state to implement the law, the Department of Justice estimated a cost of $340,000 in fiscal year 2023–24 and $588,000 ongoing to address the increased workload for the department’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section.
California has become the first state in the nation to adopt a bill of this kind after similar legislation failed in 2019 and 2020.
Toys line the shelves of a store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Toys line the shelves of a store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

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Sophie Li

Sophie Li

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Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.

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