Leyva Bill Promoting Equity for Girls State and Boys State Participants Passes Assembly Judiciary Committee

SB 363 Solidifies California’s Commitment to Ending Gender-Based Discrimination

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Rejecting gender-based discrimination in civic education and leadership programs in California, the Assembly Judiciary Committee today approved a legislative measure by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that seeks to end the unfair and discriminatory treatment of Girls State participants.

Sponsored by Equal Right Advocates, Senate Bill 363 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.

“For far too long, Girls State participants have had lesser and inequitable program opportunities than their Boys State counterparts,” Senator Leyva said.  “SB 363 will finally put an end to this discriminatory treatment that has—for decades—supported clear gender-based discrimination that hurts young women across California.  With today’s vote, California is now one step closer to ensuring parity for students in both of these civic education programs that are preparing our state’s future leaders.”

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.

Though 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 attendees, inequitable treatment still remains.For example, California Boys State applicants pay no fees to apply to the program, while California Girls State applicants must pay a $50 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.Moreover, 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.

SB 363 is supported by American Legion Auxiliary—Department of California, California Federation of Teachers—AFL-CIO and Women Democrats of Sacramento County.