If passed, a California bill introduced last week would require some large retailers to have gender-neutral areas for children’s apparel and toys within their stores.
Assembly Bill 2826 would require retail stores that carry children’s clothing and shoes, toys and/or other child-care items to include some floor space where all products are displayed, regardless of whether those goods have been traditionally marked for girls or boys.
Introduced by California State Assemblymember Evan Low, the bill would apply only to department stores with 500 or more employees. The bill would go into effect beginning in 2023 and carry a civil penalty of $1,000.
Low proposed this legislation with the aim of making the shopping experience more inclusive for kids. The bill reads: “Unjustified differences in similar products that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys can be more easily identified by the consumer if similar items are displayed closer to one another in one, undivided area of the retail sales floor.”
“Keeping similar items that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys separated makes it more difficult for the consumer to compare the products and incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate,” the text continues.
The proposed legislation comes as newer generations of parents have become less concerned with sticking to a gender binary. A 2017 Mintel survey showed that one in five American parents with kids under the age of 12 support the trend toward gender-neutral kids’ products, with support being higher among millennial parents. Studies show that members of Generation Z are even less beholden to stereotypes: Only 39% of Gen Zers purchase footwear aimed at a specific gender, according to a 2016 study from the Innovation Group.
While the California bill would require large-format retailers to embrace the non-gendered movement, several major retailers have already made changes on their own. Brands including Abercrombie, Zara and John Lewis have launched unisex apparel lines for kids. Meanwhile, Target made headlines in 2015 when it decided to do away with gender-based signs in several key departments, among them toys and home.
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