Two Democratic members of the California state assembly recently introduced legislation that would force retail stores to eliminate boys’ and girls’ clothing and toy sections, claiming that having separate sections reinforces gender stereotypes and stunts a child’s development.
Assembly Bill 1084 would force retail stores with 500 or more employees to “maintain undivided areas of its sales floor where the majority of those items being offered are displayed, regardless of whether an item has traditionally been marketed for either girls or for boys.” The bill also prohibits “the use of signage within each undivided area indicating that particular items are for either girls or for boys.”
The legislation also applies to online sales, requiring retailers to “dedicate a section of the internet website to the sale of those items and articles that are titled, at the discretion of the retailer, ‘kids,’ ‘unisex,’ or ‘gender-neutral,’ as specified.”
The bill addresses childcare items, clothing, and toys, but it does not address what constitutes an item intended for children or the intended age ranges.
The bill would take effect Jan. 1, 2024, and would impose a $1,000 penalty on retailers who do not comply.
Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low, chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus, and Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who chairs the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, co-authored the bill.
Low said he took inspiration from Target’s decision in 2015 to abolish gendered kids’ sections and from a staffer’s nine-year-old daughter who didn’t understand why some toys were labeled as being for boys and others for girls. The staffer’s daughter allegedly had to go to the boys’ section to find a science-related toy.
He said, “Her bill will help children express themselves freely and without bias. We need to let kids be kids. That was the impetus of this, which is how do we make a safe space today for children in society.”
Low added that the bill allows children to have a positive shopping experience and to shop without “stigma.”
The Sacramento Bee reported that Low likened the bill to other laws California has passed, including those prohibiting retailers from charging more for items marketed to women, forcing corporations to appoint women to their boards of directors, and mandating gender-neutral bathrooms.
“That’s our agenda. Those are our California values and that’s our agenda,” Low added.
The Bee also reported that Rob Smith, founder and CEO of The Phluid Project, a gender-neutral clothing company, was involved in the formation of the bill. Smith said, “Fashion and gender is just like everything else, it’s always changing and evolving.” He added, “I just want to remind people we’re always in a state of un-learning and re-learning.”
Standing for Freedom Takeaway
Looking at this bill as an optimist, one could certainly agree that strict gender delineations in toys can sometimes be harmful in today’s environment. For example, if a girl picks up a toy dump truck instead of a doll, parents will actually conclude that she is either homosexual or actually a boy and needs puberty blockers. Parents and others often read too much into these things and encourage a child that they are transgender. In this regard, removing gender from toys would be positive.
Looking at the bill in a realistic manner, however, it’s clearly more about promoting the elimination of gender distinctions than it is about upholding the God-ordained femininity or masculinity He has given each girl or boy. No, there is nothing wrong with a girl such as the daughter of Low’s staffer playing with science-related toys, but eliminating distinctions between toys marketed towards males and females ignores that boys typically gravitate to certain types of toys and girls typically gravitate towards different toys.
While we certainly should not squelch any and all deviation from this, we should also encourage boys and girls to embrace the way God made them and cultivate these characteristics.
More problematic is the elimination of separate boys’ and girls’ sections for clothing. No, a little boy playing dress-up with his sister does not mean he is homosexual or transgender, and vice versa. That would be a horrible and irrational overreaction. Yet we should not encourage children to dress in a way that obscures their gender. Scripture makes it clear that we are not to try to appear as the opposite gender by the way we dress. It is not appropriate for all girls’ and boys’ clothing to be in the same area, and changing areas should also be separate.
While this bill claims to support children, Low’s mention of gender-neutral bathrooms show that the bill is really about eliminating distinctions between male and female (and Smith’s involvement shows that he has an economic interest in pushing this bill). By eliminating distinctions for children when they are impressionable, malleable, and easily confused, we communicate the false notion that men and women are the same.
Smith is incorrect: Gender is not eternally evolving as fashion does. God creates each person male or female. That has never changed, and it never will.
Not only does this bill infringe on the rights of business owners and make shopping more difficult, but it attacks the notion of a difference in the sexes or even the very idea that there are different sexes. This bill is an attempt to communicate a false narrative to children, pushing the LGBT agenda on them without parental consent.