Kids' sections of large retail stores in California may become gender-neutral if a new bill passes the California state legislature. Introduced on Feb. 18, Assembly Bill 1084 would make stores with 500 or more employees that sell toys or clothing for kids "maintain undivided areas of its sales floor" beginning on Jan 1, 2024. Any retailer that fails to do so within 30 days would face a $1,000 fine.
"The bill would prohibit the use of signage within each undivided area indicating that particular items are for either girls or for boys," reads the bill. "If a retail department store places a childcare item, an article of children's clothing, a toy, or anything that could be considered a combination thereof, in an area of its sales floor outside of the undivided areas where the majority of like items are sold, the bill would prohibit the use of any signage with respect to the item that indicates that it is either for girls or for boys."
Moreover, the bill would require California-based stores with e-commerce websites to label at least one part of the children's section as "kids," "unisex" or "gender-neutral."
According to Assemblymember Evan Low, the idea for the bill actually came from an 8-year-old girl. "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?'" he said in a February press release. "Her bill will help children express themselves freely and without bias. We need to let kids be kids."
Of course, some big box retailers are ahead of the curve when it comes to making these inclusive changes. Target, for example, removed gender-based signs in certain departments — including the home and toys sections —back in 2015. Additionally, brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and John Lewis have launched unisex clothing lines for children.