Leyva Bill Promoting Girls State and Boys State Parity Passes Senate Education Committee

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

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Rejecting the current gender-based discrimination that offers less robust program offerings to young women compared to young men in specified civic education and leadership programs, the Senate Education Committee today approved Senate Bill 363 that will repeal the American Legion’s exception to sex discrimination provisions in the California Education Code.

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.

“SB 363 is clear: the hundreds of young women that attend Girls State deserve to have access to similar programs as young men attending Boys State, including visiting the State Capitol,” Senator Leyva said.  “As Californians, it is important that we encourage gender parity in civic education and leadership opportunities.  The equally prepared Girls State participants should not have lesser opportunities than Boys State participants simply because of the fact that they are women.”

Though California Girls State participants are able to experience some of the same aspects of the civics education and leadership opportunities as California Boys State participants, inequities still remain.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 in Sacramento where they gained insight and potential career opportunities that were not available to California Girls State participants.

Notably, though the American Legion currently has an exception to sex discrimination provisions in the California Education Code, the American Legion Auxiliary does not hold such an exception.Additionally, since approximately half of the number of young women participate in California Girls State than young men in Boys State, the number of opportunities that young women are offered and also the diversity of students who are able to attend are limited.

SB 363 is sponsored by Equal Rights Advocates and supported by Women’s Foundation California.