The law passed by the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom still allows for separate sections for boys and girls, but larger retail outlets and stores must also provide a dedicated gender-neutral aisle. Conditions state that the aisles must show “a reasonable selection” of toys and items regardless of whether they’ve been marketed towards a particular sex.
Failure to comply with the new law will see toy shops and companies slapped with a $250 fine for a first violation, followed by a hefty $500 for others.
Although the law was passed last month into the California legislature, the operational side of the law will not come into effect until 2024.
More than 500 stores across California will be subject to the new rules.
With toys and childcare items being the main products affected, clothing is not covered under the new regulations.
In justifying the law being passed, the wording of the law says “unjustified differences in similar products” would be the aim of tackling the gender bias.
Democrat Assemblyman, Evan Low, who was one of the co-authors of the law claimed his daughter’s question of why boys go to certain aisles in toy shops inspired him to write the legislation.
“The segregation of toys by a social construct of what is appropriate for which gender is the antithesis of modern thinking,” said Assemblyman Low.
The Consumer Federation of California, an advocacy group for end users said that by separating products by gender: “Helps to disguise the unfortunate fact that female products are often priced higher than male products.”
Critics have labelled the move as an infringement of free speech, and claims that such laws will restrict businesses owners ability to adapt to the free market.
One of the most vocal critics has been the California Family Council, a conservative advocacy group. It accused gender-fluid clothing designer, Rob Smith of lobbying for the bill for his own commercial gain.
In a statement on their website, the CFC said: “With the explosion of gender transitioning clinics for kids over the past decade, with the state legislature increasingly requiring affirmation of a minor’s gender identity in K-12 public schools, and with more and more kids identifying as a gender other than male or female, it’s no wonder that an entrepreneur and activist like Rob Smith would want to cash in on the new fashion trend.”
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Toy manufacturers and comics have also taken on the issue.
Danish toy-making giant Lego on Monday pledged to remove gender bias from its toys after research found girls were being held back by gender stereotypes.
The company, whose colourful building blocks and figurines sell in more than 130 countries, said it wants to make its products more inclusive so that children’s ambitions are not limited by gender.
“The company will ensure any child, regardless of gender identity, feels they can build anything they like,” Lego said in a statement.
Furthermore, addressing sexual preferences, DC Comics has announced that its next comic book issue, due for release in November, Jon Kent (the son of Clarke Kent) will be pictured in a same-sex relationship with his friend Jay Nakamura.
The story line is part of ‘Superman: Son of Kal-El’, a series following Jon as he takes on the mantle of Superman from his father.
DC Comics made the announcement on National Coming Out Day, an annual LGBT awareness day started in the US.
The comic group have released an early image of the next release, showing Jon Kent in a passionate embrace with his friend.
“The idea of replacing Clark Kent with another straight white saviour felt like a missed opportunity,” Tom Taylor, who writes the series, said in an interview.
Others have not taken to the idea so kindly.
Speaking on “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News, Monday night, Raymond Arroyo commented: “Why are they sexualising superheroes? You know, I was a Batman and Superman and Spider-Man kid. I loved those heroes. We just wanted them to get the bad guys, not a venereal disease. Anyway, leave our superheroes alone.”