We recently wrote about how major toy manufacturer Lego has decided to remove gender biases from its toy lines after realizing that gender stereotypes in toy-making are still contributing to the damaging and asymmetrical training opportunities that children get while they play.
Now, California is joining the effort to recognize and restructure gender biases in toys by becoming the first US state to require large retailers to offer toys and childcare items in a gender-neutral section.
The new law, which California’s state legislature passed last month, and which was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this month, does not prohibit shops from having “boys’” and “girls’” sections but requires them to have a separate section that is dedicated to gender-neutral toys. The gender-neutral section has to display “a reasonable selection” of toys and childcare items, such as products that are designed to aid sleep, relaxation, feeding, teething, or sucking, regardless of how they’ve been marketed. Clothing will not be affected.
If companies are found violating the law, they will be fined $250 for their first infraction and $500 for any more breaches.
The inspiration behind the new law was one of Democrat Assemblyman Evan Low’s staff member’s eight-year-old daughter, who wanted to know why she had to go to the boys’ section to find a particular toy. Low, who is one of the law’s co-authors, said in a statement that “the segregation of toys by a social construct of what is appropriate for which gender is the antithesis of modern thinking.”
According to Low, the categorizing of toys by gender has “led to the proliferation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-geared toys” in boys’ sections, while girls were guided towards toys that encouraged “caring for a baby, fashion, and domestic life.”