A new bill could require retail stores in one state to become more gender-neutral.
The legislation is currently under debate in California, where it would prohibit department stores with more than 500 employees from dividing children's products by gender.
Specifically, the bill seeks to ban separate areas and signs for boys and girls, and to mandate online retailers that have physical locations in the state to use gender-neutral terms when labelling children's items. While it applies to toys and other products, the bill would not cover clothing.
The proposal was introduced on February 18, and if passed, will go into effect January 1, 2024. It will come with a fine of $1,000 for violations.
The bill's co-author, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia said that she introduced the bill to prevent "limiting ourselves and our kids into certain boxes."
"It's really important that toys and kids' sections be gender neutral in order to give kids as many opportunities to flourish and develop and be creative," she said. "We should allow our kids to explore and try different things and let them come to their own conclusion of how they will identify themselves."
The bill was co-authored by Assemblyman Evan Low, who first introduced a version of it in 2020 after meeting an 8-year-old child named Britten who asked him, "why should a store tell me what a girl's shirt or toy is?" Low agrees. "We need to let kids be kids," he said, "her bill will help children express themselves freely and without bias."
The bill comes after a recent Gallup poll found that people in Gen Z are identifying as LGBTQ+ in higher numbers than any previous generation. In the poll, 15.9 percent of Gen Z adults said they identify as LGBT, compared to 9.1 percent of millennials, and just 3.8 percent of Gen X.
The number of trans people is also growing with each generation. Just 0.2 percent of Gen X identifies as transgender, while 1.2 percent of millennials do, and 1.8 percent of Gen Z adults. As the younger generations keep getting queerer, so too should the world around them.