Late Saturday night, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed a new law that makes his state the first state in the country to require large retailers to have gender-neutral sections for products like toys and toothbrushes.
The New York Post reported that this law was pushed by LGBT advocates who expressed their beliefs that pink and blue marketing reinforces gender stereotypes and is harmful to children. Late last night, Newsom signed the law, which mandates that large stores offer a gender-neutral section to display “a reasonable selection” of items “regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys.”
Stores must have at least 500 employees to be subject to this legislation, which only pertains to toys and “childcare items,” including hygiene and teething products.
Evan Low, a Democrat state assemblyman who authored the bill, said that he was “incredibly grateful” to Newsom for signing this bill.
“We need to stop stigmatizing what’s acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids,” Low said. “My hope is this bill encourages more businesses across California and the U.S. to avoid reinforcing harmful and outdated stereotypes.”
Low previously said that he was inspired to draw up this law by a 10 year-old girl named Britten, whose mother works in his legislative office.
“Britten asked her mom while shopping why certain things in a store were ‘off limits’ to her because she was a girl, but would be fine if she was a boy,” Low said. “Thankfully, my colleagues recognized the pure intentions of this bill and the need to let kids be kids.”
The Associated Press reported that some Republicans and other conservative groups fought back against this law by saying that the government has no business telling parents how to shop for their children. State Sen. Melissa Melendez, a Republican from Lake Elsinore who voted against the bill, said that she would “recommend we let parents be parents.”
“Unlike the author, I actually have children, five of them to be exact and I can tell you it is very convenient for parents,” she said. “I don’t think parents need the government to step in and tell them how they should shop for their children.”
Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, said that though he and Low are “childless gay men,” he still feels that they have the right to have opinions about children and families.
“We know what it was like to grow up not conforming to the way that your gender is supposed to be,” he said, adding: “This is about making safe spaces for all children in today’s society and not pushing, sometimes forcing children to conform.”