California passed a law this week requiring major toy store chains to introduce gender-neutral sections by January 1 of this year. The new law has received broad political support, but also harsh criticism from conservative and Christian groups.
Initiated by California politician Evan Low (D) and supported by Governor (and devout Catholic) Gavin Newsom (D), the new law aims to “help children express themselves freely”.
– The proposal will help children express themselves freely and without prejudice, Evan Low said of the bill.
By the end of the year, California toy stores with more than 500 employees will have to restructure their departments to avoid fines of up to $5,000 for “violations”.
Lisa Boothe from @FoxNews welcomes @gregburt10 from the California Family Council to discuss a new California law mandating gender-neutral toy sections in large stores. They explore its origins, influenced by an eight-year-old and an LGBT caucus member. https://t.co/UxuZvAAEMX
— CA Family Council (@CAFamily) January 5, 2024
Despite relatively broad political support for the proposal, there has also been harsh criticism, particularly from religious and conservative groups who argue that it violates companies’ free speech rights.
Jonathan Keller of the California Family Council points out that activists should not be forcing stores to carry state-sanctioned messages of a sexual nature aimed at children.
– Activists and lawmakers have no right to force stores to convey state-approved messages about sexuality and gender.
Many individuals and business owners are also strongly criticizing what some are calling an “assault on freedom”.
Seriously? When the state dictates what kind of toys you must sell you know that freedom is under threat.
Gender-neutral toy aisles now compulsory in major California stores https://t.co/2H6JnQGl2Y
— Frank Furedi (@Furedibyte) January 4, 2024
By a vote of 49-16 in the state House of Representatives, the bill was passed before the end of the year. However, the fine range of 2,500 to 5,000 SEK for non-compliant shops suggests that the aim is change rather than harsh punishment.