California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill, AB-1084 into law, which requires large retailers to provide gender-neutral toy sections. California is the first state to adopt such a law.
What makes this new law so significant is the freedom a gender-neutral toy aisle would give to young children, rather than forcing them to conform to the pink and blue hues of traditional marketing methods.
The new law states that retail stores with 500 or more employees must sell toys and childcare products, excluding clothes but including hygienic products such as toothbrushes, in gender-neutral sections that have been labeled at the discretion of the retailer, regardless of whether they have been marketed for either boys or girls. Companies are still allowed to have other sections that continue to offer toys and childcare marketed towards specific genders, so long as they comply with the neutral aisle. Otherwise, businesses could face a civil penalty of $250 for a first violation and $500 for any other subsequent violations.
According to an article published by the Associated Press, Democratic Assemblymember Evan Low, who first introduced the legislation, said that we need to stop stigmatizing what is acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids.
Low is absolutely right. It is time to let kids be kids. Children are not born knowing all of the limitations of gender, they are taught by outside sources, such as parents, teachers, or society’s standards.
Low said he was inspired to create the bill by one of his staffer’s daughters. The 10-year-old girl asked her mother why certain items were off limits to her because she was a girl.
Gender limitations are being eliminated, slowly but surely. According to research commissioned by the Danish toymaker Lego, girls feel more empowered than ever before to engage in all kinds of play and activities, with 82% of them believing that girls can play football and boys can practice ballet.
Lego has followed suit with California lawmakers, now vowing to remove any gender bias from its own toys after the research.
Girls are not born with the installed belief that they cannot play sports, they are taught that this is a masculine trait by society and that they should pick up Barbies or learn to play house instead. The same can be said with boys being taught that they must play with dolls because it is not the manly thing to do.
There is no real way to eliminate the gender stereotypes that have existed for centuries, but this bill is a step in the right direction to doing just that.