Governor Agrees With Senator Leyva: Girls State and Boys State Participants Deserve Equitable Opportunities

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

Friday, October 8, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Seeking to eliminate gender-based discrimination in civic education and leadership programs in California, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed Senate Bill 363 by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that will finally end the unfair and discriminatory treatment of Girls State participants.

Senate Bill 363 specifically requires 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 the stroke of Governor Newsom’s pen, SB 363 will finally end the unfair treatment that has—for decades—hurt young women attending Girls State here in California,” Senator Leyva said.  “Discrimination based on gender is clearly wrong and today California again stands on the right side of history by making sure that the hundreds of equally prepared young women that attend Girls State never have lesser treatment or opportunities as the young men attending Boys State simply because of their gender.”

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 comparable 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.

While California Girls State participants are 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.

Taking effect on January 1, 2022, SB 363 was sponsored by Equal Rights Advocates and supported by American Legion Auxiliary—Department of California, California Federation of Teachers—AFL-CIO and Women Democrats of Sacramento County through the legislative process.