Gender-neutral toy aisles required under new law in California

Major retailers in California are now required to have gender-neutral toy aisles under a new state law.

The law, which went into effect Monday, stems from a 2021 bill in the California legislature requiring toy retailers with a physical location in the state and at least 500 employees “to maintain a gender-neutral section or area to be labeled at the discretion of the retailer.”

California Assemblymember Evan Low said he was inspired to introduce this bill by an 8-year-old girl who asked, “Why should a store tell me what a girl’s shirt or toy is?”

“Her bill will help children express themselves freely and without bias. We need to let kids be kids,” Low said.

Stores failing to comply with the new law could be subjected to a $250 penalty for the first violation, and up to $500 for subsequent infractions, the bill text outlined.

“We should all have compassion for individuals experiencing gender dysphoria,” said California Family Council President Jonathan Keller at the time. “But activists and state legislators have no right to force retailers to espouse government-approved messages about sexuality and gender. It’s a violation of free speech and it’s just plain wrong.”

The bill passed in a 49-16 vote in September 2021 and was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom the following month.