Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low, a member of Silicon Valley, California, introduced a new bill that would force stores that separate toys, clothing, and child care items into boys’ and girls’ sections to pay a $1,000 fine.

 The new bill, AB 2826, would “require a retail department store with 500 or more employees to maintain undivided areas of its sales floor where, if it sells child care articles, children’s clothing, or toys, all child care items, all clothing for children, or all toys, regardless of whether a particular item has traditionally been marketed for either girls or for boys, shall be displayed.” 

If it goes in effect, beginning on Jan. 1, 2023, any department store that fails to correct a violation of these provisions within 30 days of receiving a written notice from the attorney general will be liable for a civil penalty of $1,000, as provided.

The motivation for this bill, according to a press release from Low’s office, is to make sure no child would feel stigmatized for wearing a dinosaur shirt or playing with a Barbie doll, and separating items that are traditionally marketed for either girls or boys makes it more difficult for the consumer to compare products. It also incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate.

“I was inspired to introduce this bill after 8-year-old Britten asked, ‘Why should a store tell me what a girl’s shirt or toy is?’” said Low. “Her bill will help children express themselves freely and without bias. We need to let kids be kids.”

The press release continued, “Abercrombie & Fitch and John Lewis recently launched unisex apparel lines for kids. In 2015, Target made headlines when it removed gender-based signs in some departments, including home and toys.”

Then came Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute-Center for Public Policy, claiming that separated areas on gender in department stores are killing freedom, innovation, and common sense. 

“Compassion for our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors does not require us to embrace absurdities on gender. No child should be bullied or stigmatized, and neither should the State bully retailers into making it harder for moms and dads to find boys and girls clothing and toys. It’s time for voters to demand more accountability of their elected officials,” he said.

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