California mandates gender-neutral toy sections for large retailers

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LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — California is now the first state in the country to require a gender-neutral children’s section at large retailers.

The new law requires stores with 500 or more employees to sell some of their toys or childcare products, such as toothbrushes, outside of traditional boys and girls sections. It does not outlaw traditional boys and girls sections or include clothing.

The move is being hailed as a win for LGBTQ advocates who say traditional marketing methods pressure children to conform to gender stereotypes.

“Kids have these years to figure out who they are in their gender identity,” said one child advocate. “These years are hard enough without boys and girls sections trying to conform their heart in a little box.”

Voices on both sides of the fight spoke out at a judiciary committee meeting earlier this year. Republicans and conservative groups in opposition see the move as another example of government overreach.

“A customer’s subjective experience of feeling uncomfortable with a store’s layout … would subject that store to onerous penalties and fines,” said Matthew McReynolds, an attorney at the Pacific Justice Institute.

The large retailers have until 2024 to implement the change or face fines of up to $500.

On Monday, Lego also pledged to remove gender bias from its toys after a report found 71 percent of boys feared they would be ridiculed if they played with “girls toys.”

In 2015, Target announced it would stop using some gender-specific signs inside its almost 2,000 stores.

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