Senator Leyva: Participants of Girls State and Boys State Must Have Similar Opportunities

SB 363 Will Finally End Unequal Treatment of Girls State Participants

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

SACRAMENTO – In order to advance California’s goal of providing equitable educational and civic opportunities to girls, Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) introduced SB 363 that will allow the use of public resources in Sacramento for California Boys State only if California Girls State participants receive similar treatment.

As hundreds of young men attend California Boys State in Sacramento each summer (except during public health or other emergencies), 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 hosts its own program at a college campus in Southern California hundreds of miles away from the state capital and the center of California’s legislative process.

“As the chair of the Senate Education Committee and Chair Emeritus of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, I am absolutely committed to fighting for gender parity in civic education and leadership opportunities for California Boys State and California Girls State participants alike,” Senator Leyva said.  “SB 363 will ensure that—if a program chooses to discriminate based on gender—they will not be allowed the use of the State Capitol or any public facilities in Sacramento.  It’s simple: the hundreds of equally prepared young women that attend Girls State must never have lesser treatment or opportunities as the young men attending Boys State simply because of their gender.”

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, inequities 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. California Boys State has also previously hosted a college night where the young men had opportunities to meet directly with representatives from various colleges and career paths, while California Girls State participants did not have similar access during their program week. California Boys State attendees were also provided direct access to government and law enforcement officials where they gained insight and potential career opportunities that were not available to California Girls State participants.

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 are able to attend.

Following its introduction today, SB 363 will be considered by relevant Senate committee(s) later this spring.