A California law described as “nannyish overreach” that takes effect next month requires major retailers to have a gender-neutral section for toys and child care items.

The 2021 law, which won the approval of Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom, requires California department stores with 500 or more employees to create a gender-neural section of toys “regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys,” according to the New York Post.

The gender-neutral edict also covers items to feed children, help them sleep, and other related products. Although the law allows retailers to have sections themed for boys and girls, unless one exists that is gender-neutral, businesses face a fine of $250 for the first violation, and $500 for each subsequent violation.

“Part of it is to make sure if you’re a young girl that you can find a police car, fire truck, a periodic table or a dinosaur,” Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low, who sponsored the legislation, said when it was signed into law, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“And then similarly, if you’re a boy, if you’re more artistic and want to play with glitter, why not? Why should you feel the stigma of saying, ‘Oh, this should be shamed’ and going to a different location?” Low said.

But at a time when toymakers had already explored filling that gender neutral niche — though perhaps more in the name of profits than ideology — the law has become a target for criticism.

“Retail stores are very attuned to the supply and demand of their merchandise, and they are very aware of the clientele they serve. We do not believe it is the role of the California Legislature to overstep the natural process of the free market,” the Capitol Resource Institute according to The Washington Post.

“[A]ctivists and state legislators have no right to force retailers to espouse government-approved messages about gender. It’s a violation of free speech and it’s just plain wrong,” Jonathan Keller, president of the conservative California Family Council lobbying group, said.

An editorial by the Los Angeles Times before the bill was signed said that in the natural evolution of commerce, companies were responding to the times, noting Target dropped gender-specific sections in 2015 and other retailers did the same.

The editorial said the bill “represents nannyish overreach,” adding “How private companies choose to arrange a display of toys or any other products is simply not government business.”

“As small as the reach of this bill would be, the concept it represents is of major concern: another inch in the Legislature’s mission creep from public policymaker to private overseer,” it wrote, saying “progressive lawmakers need to check this trend toward interfering in seemingly every aspect of private commerce.”

From the other coast, the New York Post opined that “plenty of kids march to the beat of their own drums; all their needs are easily met thanks to the wonders of market capitalism.”

“This law will do nothing — literally zip, zilch, nada — to solve any actual problems,” the Post wrote, noting that retailers are suffering at the hands of progressive lawmakers who passed the bill.

“The same progressive overclass whose policies are destroying Cali’s retail sector via effectively legalized shoplifting now wants to ensure Xi’s Own Mermaid Astronaut Junior Science Kits get primo shelf placement before thugs shovel them into garbage bags and run,” the editorial said.

“Consider it history’s lamest Xmas present, courtesy of state legislators high on lefty narcissism and utterly divorced from the grim realities facing the voters they ‘represent,’” the Post editorial said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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