California bill would mandate "gender neutral" toys and clothing sections in stores

The Golden State isn’t going to be content to sit on its hands and wait for someone else to take the trophy in the craziness contest. Despite having one of the worst coronavirus infection rates in the nation and a rapidly cratering state budget, not to mention a Governor on the verge of a recall bid, the California legislature has decided to focus some of its efforts on a new bill designed to punish stores that have separate boys and girls sections for clothing and toys. All products would simply be labeled as being for “kids,” and any stores found to be out of compliance would face heavy fines. Seriously, people… where is the switch that turns this ride off? I’m getting dizzy. (Reason)

Last week, Assembly Members Evan Low (D–Cupertino) and Cristina Garcia (D–Los Angeles) introduced a bill that would require retailers to offer their toys and childcare products in a gender-neutral format.

Brick-and-mortar shops would have to display the majority of their products and clothing aimed at children in one undivided, unisex area on the sales floor. They’d also be barred from putting up signage that would indicate whether a product was intended for a boy or girl.

California-based retailers that sell children’s products online would also have to have a page on their website that offers these products in a general neutral fashion. The bill would allow retailers to title that section of their website “kids,” “unisex,” or “gender neutral.”

Stores found to have separate boys and girls sections would face a $1,000 fine for the first offense. A continued refusal to follow the state mandate could see the total fines adding up quickly.

What’s even more curious about this absurd legislation is that it would only apply to retail department stores with more than 500 employees. While I can understand prioritizing small businesses that have already been crushed by government shutdown orders, what’s the rationale behind that? Are “gender-neutral” parents less likely to be offended by the words “boy” or “girl” if they see them in a smaller shop? This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this sort of distinction being made in California. When Long Beach imposed its “hero pay” mandate for grocery store workers, it was only applied to national chains with a large number of workers. (That led to two major retail outlets promptly closing permanently, eliminating hundreds of jobs.)

Getting back to this new proposal, I would note that states are only supposed to impose restrictions on private business interests when they can demonstrate harm would be caused by not doing so. In this case, it’s the state legislature causing the harm. They’re obviously trying to prove their wokeness, but it’s being done to ostensibly protect the feelings of any “trans kids” or families preaching gender ambiguity to their children. But what about the vast majority of boys who “identify” as boys and girls who “identify” as girls? You’d imagine that plenty of them would be interested in both clothing and toys traditionally considered appropriate for their actual gender.

Further, there is also a distinct lack of any “harm” being caused by the current system. Nobody was forcing the stores to have separate boys and girls sections and some of them, including Target, have already removed such labels. And there hasn’t been a single case of a store preventing girls from shopping in the boys section or vice versa. How is this not an issue for the free market to settle? Anyone who is really that offended by seeing the words “boy” or “girl” is free to vote with their wallets and their feet by going to Target.

I swear, it’s getting to the point where it really feels like we’re waking up in the middle of an episode of Black Mirror every day. Stories like this would have been considered satire only a decade ago. And yet here we are, reading them in actual news outlets.

David Strom 10:01 PM on September 26, 2022
David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022