California, which is grappling with significant urban issues, has taken a controversial step in retail regulation. Rather than address the problem of retail theft, the state is now turning its attention to the sector through a law that mandates gender-neutral toy sections in large retail stores.
This legislation, which comes into effect in the new year, poses fines for non-compliance, drawing mixed reactions from various quarters. The law, as explained by the Washington Examiner, seeks to address what it perceives as a societal problem: the segregation of toys by gender. Governor Gavin Newsom signed it into law earlier this year.
“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 legislation says.
Assemblymember Evan Low, the bill’s sponsor, explained the intention behind this move stated that, “The segregation of toys by a social construct of what is appropriate for which gender is the antithesis of modern thinking,” adding, “We need to stop stigmatizing what’s acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids.”
The regulation has sparked a debate over the state government’s priorities, with critics arguing that with the plethora of pressing issues facing California, such as high living costs and rampant homelessness, the focus on toy store layouts seems misplaced. They question the impact of such a law on real societal challenges, suggesting that it may not address any significant problem.
Writing for the Washington Examiner, Brad Polumbo wrote:
It used to be considered common sense in America that government intervention in private affairs is only ever justified when there’s a real threat to someone’s health or safety. But now, the ideology that reigns supreme in California barely blinks twice at inserting the state into the most mundane levels of people’s lives.
There’s also a potential free speech problem with this new mandate. Companies might be able to challenge this regulation in court and argue that it violates their commercial free speech rights to be forced to participate in California’s ‘gender-neutral’ view of childhood development.
What’s more, it’s yet another regulation and headache layered onto private enterprise in a state that is already one of the most expensive states in which to do business. How many more companies need to relocate out of the Golden State before its government stops piling on?