The bill was debated by lawmakers and signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021. Melissa Melendez, a former state assemblywoman, was present – and "stunned" – during debate.
"I was stunned because the author of the bill doesn't have any children," Melendez told Fox News. "He has no idea what it's like to go to the store, scrambling to try and find that certain toy for your child's birthday or Christmas, rush home to make dinner and 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," Melendez added.
The law does not ban boys' and girls' sections in stores but requires them to have a separate, gender-neutral section that must present a "reasonable selection" of toys and childcare items, regardless of the manufacturer's intentions of a child's sex.
The new law addresses what it calls "gender inequity" by making products more easily identified by consumers. It also defines childcare items as those designed to facilitate sleep, relaxation, the feeding of children or to help with sucking or teething.
Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low, a co-author of the bill, in 2021 called segregation of toys "the antithesis of modern thinking." Inspiration for the bill, he explained, came when a staff member's 8-year-old daughter asked her mother why she had to look for a certain toy in the boy's section.
Some observers – Melendez among them – say there are First Amendment considerations with the government now dictating signage in stores.
"I'm with the America First Policy Institute," she offered. "Our mission has always been to put the American people first. This [new law] puts special interest groups first. It says we're going to let a small minority, who have decided that this is terrible for children, [have] the voice and the power to control everyone's choices and how they shop."
What about that huge deficit?
Melendez argued that the new law wrongly shifts attention away from California's enormous debt. "We have a $68 billion budget deficit in California. I'm sure we could be focusing on something other than the toy section at our local Target," she shared.
"This notion that this is harming children? For crying out loud … [in] this country we've been raising children for years and years and years. We understand how to do so. And someone who doesn't even have children just doesn't need to be weighing in on this," she concluded.