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Bill Would Bar Stores From Having 'Boys' and 'Girls' Toys

California lawmakers say the practice is outdated
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2021 4:32 PM CST

(Newser) – A California lawmaker said that when she was a child, she sometimes was steered away from playing with Lincoln Logs because they were thought by adults to be for boys. The issue is more than fun; such activities can develop spatial ability, notes the Los Angeles Times. That can help students in fields in which women are underrepresented, such as science, technology, engineering, and math. Another lawmaker said the issue remains today: A staff member's 9-year-old daughter who's into science and math said she has to go hunting in the boys' section for toys that interest her. So Democratic assembly members Evan Low and Cristina Garcia have sponsored a bill to prevent retailers from separating toys and child-care products in boys' and girls' sections. Stores out of compliance would be put on notice before facing fines.

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Gender-based signs wouldn't be allowed in toy sections, either. Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us have already dropped them, the lawmakers said. The law would apply to department stores with at least 500 employees. "We want to ensure that those periodic tables and dinosaurs are not in the boys' section," Low said. "We just want to let kids be kids." Garcia said: "Playtime is fun, but it's also about developing a skill set. ... We want to make sure we’re not limiting a kid’s creativity." A psychology professor said gender-neutral toys are more likely to help children develop academically, socially, and artistically, per CBS. The changes could help in another way. "I think we have kids who are figuring out their identities," Garcia said, "and so we want to give them that safe space to do that." (Mr. Potato Head has a shorter name now.)

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