Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Leyva Bill Advancing Girls State and Boys State Equity

SB 363 Would End Unfair and Discriminatory Treatment of Girls State Participants

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 363 authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino), which will require the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary—in their respective Boys State and Girls State programs—to offer substantially similar curriculum and access to government officials / facilities, an equal number of opportunities for girls as there are for boys, equal limitations on the number of students nominated per school, and allow non-binary students to apply to either program.  With today’s action, the committee advanced this important legislation to end the current gender-based discrimination that offers lesser program offerings to young women compared to young men in specified civic education and leadership programs.

Young men attending California Boys State in Sacramento each summer (except during public health or other emergencies) are able to participate in a mock legislative process, visit the State Capitol to tour the building and meet with legislators and staff—while young women attending California Girls State do not have similar opportunities.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 a staunch advocate for ending gender-based discrimination across all sectors in California and beyond, I appreciate the Senate Judiciary Committee upholding the right of Girls State participants to expect similar opportunities as Boys State participants,” Senator Leyva said. “SB 363 will finally bring equity to civic education and leadership programs that have long limited full access and participation by young women in California.”

California Girls State participants are currently able to experience some of the same aspects of the civics education and leadership opportunities as California Boys State participants, though inequitable treatment still exists.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 were able 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. Additionally, 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.

Sponsored by Equal Rights Advocates, SB 363 is supported by California Women’s Law Center, IGNITE, National Women’s Political Caucus of California and Women’s Foundation California.