Senator Leyva: Participants of Girls State Deserve Similar Civic Opportunities as Boys State

Young Women Pay Fees, Have Limited Program Options Compared to Young Men

Friday, February 21, 2020

SACRAMENTO – In order to further California’s goal of providing an equal educational opportunity to students by prohibiting the use of public resources when a program discriminates based on gender, Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) today introduced SB 1308 that will allow the use of public resources in Sacramento for California Boys State only if California Girls State participants receive comparable treatment.

As approximately 1,000 young men attend California Boys State in Sacramento each summer, they are able to participate in a mock legislative process, visit the State Capitol to tour the building and meet with legislators and staff.Also held during the summer, California Girls State is hosted at a college campus in Southern California hundreds of miles away from the state capital and the center of California’s legislative process.

While California Girls State participants are able to partake in some of the same aspects of the civics education and leadership opportunities received by California Boys State participants, disparities still exist.For example, California Boys State applicants pay no fees to apply to the program, while California Girls State applicants must pay a $75 application fee. Also, California Boys State hosts a college night where the young men have opportunities to meet directly with representatives from various colleges and career paths, while California Girls State participants do not have similar access during their program week. California Boys State attendees are also provided one-on-one access to government and law enforcement officials where they gain insight and potential career access that is not available to California Girls State participants.

“SB 1308 will encourage gender parity in civic education and leadership opportunities for California Boys State and California Girls State participants alike by not allowing the use of the State Capitol or any public facilities in Sacramento if a program discriminates based on gender,” Senator Leyva said.  “The hundreds of young women that attend Girls State deserve to have comparable access to similar programs as California Boys State, including visiting the State Capitol.”

Though both programs are sponsored by the American Legion / American Legion Auxiliary, approximately half of the number of young women participate in California Girls State than young men in Boys State, which limits the number of opportunities that young women are offered and the diversity of students who can attend.

Following today’s introduction, SB 1308 will be considered by the appropriate Senate committee(s) later this spring.