Gender-neutral toy aisles now required at large California retailers

The stores are now required to have aisles that aren't specifically marketed toward boys or girls.
Shoppers browse the aisles during a Black Friday sale at a Target store in Newport, Kentucky.
Posted at 8:19 AM, Jan 04, 2024

More than two years after the passage of Assembly Bill 1084, a law went into effect this week in California requiring large toy retailers to have aisles dedicated toward gender-neutral toys. 

The law requires retailers that sell toys and child care items with at least 500 employees within the state of California to "maintain a gender neutral section or area, to be labeled at the discretion of the retailer, in which a reasonable selection of the items and toys for children that it sells shall be displayed, regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys."

Retailers would face a $250 initial fine for violating the law. Repeat offenders would face fines of up to $500.

The bill passed the California Senate 29-9 before the Assembly approved it 49-16. 

Retailers saw $743 billion in returns in 2023
Woman shopping

Retailers saw $743 billion in returns in 2023

As fraudulent returns grow, retailers now face the issue of keeping customers happy while also setting new return policies.


Those in support of the bill argued the law creates fair pricing for items marketed to boys and girls. 

"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 not separated by gender," the bill's authors wrote. "Combining boy's and girl's departments at retail stores with 500 or more employees into a 'kids' department or creating a gender-neutral section will most definitely make all kids feel welcomed."

Opponents of the bill argued that retailers "are in the business to sell their goods, not to do social engineering."

The bill was passed two years after Mattel said it would begin marketing gender-neutral dolls. The dolls allowed children to customize them however they'd like, using different clothing and hair combinations. However, Mattel has since stopped marketing its Creatable World doll line.