California Republican blasts state law requiring stores to have gender-neutral toy sections: ‘Beyond absurd’


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A former California lawmaker is blasting a Democrat-backed policy requiring gender-neutral toy sections in stores statewide, calling the move “beyond absurd.”

“I was really stunned, number one, because the author of the bill doesn’t have any children, so he has no idea what it’s like to go to stores scrambling to try to find that toy for your child’s birthday or Christmas, rush home to make dinner or take care of the family. He has no idea, so I was stunned that someone without children was so focused on controlling how I shop for my children,” former California state Sen. Melissa Melendez, a Republican, told “Fox & Friends” on Thursday.

The author of the bill – California Democrat lawmaker Evan Low – told CBS News at the time of its passage in 2021 that, “We need to stop stigmatizing what’s acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids…” adding that he hopes the bill’s passage will help bring an end to reinforcing “outdated stereotypes.”

CALIFORNIA TO FINE STORES THAT DON’T HAVE A ‘GENDER NEUTRAL’ KIDS TOY SECTION

Former California state Sen. Melissa Melendez criticized a state law requiring large retail stores to offer a gender-neutral toy section beginning in 2024. (Fox & Friends/Screengrab)

The policy does not outlaw gendered toy sections, but simply requires that stores with more than 500 employees must provide gender-neutral sections for children aged 12 and under alongside them. 

Failure to comply after Jan. 1, 2024 could leave these stores shelling out fines of $250 or $500, depending on the number of violations.

“There are some retailers who have already decided to start doing this, and that’s probably how it should be, rather than the government trying to step in and co-parent with parents in California,” Melendez said.

“Let retailers decide what’s best for their customers and what their clientele want, but the last thing we need is for the state legislature in California to decide, ‘Parents, this is how you need to shop for your children’… It’s policies like these that are terrible for people living in California and in any other states are choosing to do this. We don’t need the government trying to co-parent with us.”

NEWSOM SIGNS LAW REQUIRING GENDER-NEUTRAL BATHROOMS IN CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS BY 2026

Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law in 2021, but the policy takes effect in 2024. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Greg Burt, vice president of the conservative public policy nonprofit group California Family Research Council, formerly told Fox News Digital that he believes the policy violates the First Amendment.

“This is government-compelled speech,” he said. “The government is deciding to tell a religious person, could be a Muslim-owned business, that they have to use certain words to advertise toys, and those words might violate the belief systems of that particular Muslim-owned business.

“You got the government now dictating the signage in stores, about what words can be used to advertise products. This is opening a Pandora’s Box.” 

Touching on Burt’s statements, Melendez accused the policy of putting “special interest groups first” and letting a small minority dictate policies that affect all Californians.

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Evan Low California

California Assemblymember Evan Low authored the bill requiring large retail stores to offer gender-neutral toy sections. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“We’re going to give them the voice and the power to control everyone’s choices in how they shop. And, for goodness sake, we have a $68 billion budget deficit in California. I’m pretty sure we could probably be focusing on some things other than the toy section at our local Target,” she said.

The measure will put similar products that had been marketed to boys and girls side-by side as well as add toys that will appeal to kids of both genders, according to ABC 7 in San Francisco.

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Fox News’ Jamie Joseph contributed to this report.



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