California supermarkets must offer toys and childcare products in a “gender-neutral” section from 2024. California is the first US state to legalize this.
Under the new law, passed on Saturday, supermarkets must have a section with a “reasonable supply” of all kinds of items typical of boys and girls, such as toys or toothbrushes, in addition to the traditional girls’ and boys’ section. This does not include children’s clothing. The rules will apply to supermarkets with more than 500 employees, i.e. supermarkets.
Democratic Representative Evan Lu, whose idea came from, said he was “extremely grateful” for the law’s passage. It was inspired by the 10-year-old daughter of one of his employees. The girl asked her mother why she had to go to the boys’ section to get certain things.
“We need to stop stigmatizing and allow kids to be kids,” Lu said. “The law should ensure that a little girl finds a police car or a fire truck or a dinosaur too. At the same time, if the boy is a little more artistic and wants to play with glitter, why No?!” he said to Los Angeles Times.
Law hopes the law will encourage other companies in California and across America to prevent “harmful and outdated stereotypes” being imposed on children at an early age.
California may be the first state to pass this law, but in recent years several chains have already taken steps to combat those “outdated” ideas. For example, Target, which has more than 1,900 stores in the United States, eliminated the traditional boys and girls section in 2015 and stopped using gender-based labels in its stores. More stores have taken over the latter.
Opponents of the law, such as some members of the Republican Party or conservative groups, believe that the government should not interfere in this area.
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