American Legion Auxiliary Girls State is a nonpartisan participatory program that teaches young women responsible citizenship grounded in ethics, the principles of our nation’s founders, and respect for God and Country. American Legion Auxiliary Girls State is among the nation’s most respected educational programs of government instruction and leadership development for U.S. high-school students.
Since the inception of the ALA Girls State program in 1937, nearly 1 million young women have had the opportunity to learn firsthand how their state and local government work. The program has grown from a few hundred participants to some 20,000 annually.
Select high-school girls who have completed their junior year spend an intensive week of experiential learning, working together as self-governing citizens. These young women learn government and the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens by forming a fictitious state of cities; electing public officials at the local, county and state levels; and carrying out the duties of those offices. The week’s activities include simulated legislative sessions and government proceedings, along with presentations, assemblies, and recreational programs.
The American Legion sponsors a separate but similar program for young men called American Legion Boys State, first established in 1935. Currently, both American Legion Boys State and American Legion Auxiliary Girls State programs operate in all states.
High-school juniors are selected and sponsored by American Legion Auxiliary units to participate in the program. Local businesses or community organizations may help underwrite participants’ expenses. Because the structure of state and local government varies from state to state, American Legion Auxiliary Girls State programs may vary in content and method of procedure, but each adheres to the same basic core values in teaching government from the township to the state level.