Governor Noem doesn’t have to worry about getting her rat-out-libs hotline working again before addresses Girls State Wednesday evening at USD; all the girls know that if they make any serious use of the First Amendment rights that the American Legion Auxiliary is trying to instill in our youth, Governor Noem will just have them kicked out of the event and denied scholarship opportunities.
But for all her fascism, Governor Noem may be able to claim a victory in inspiring more girls to get interested in government:
American Legion Auxiliary South Dakota Girls State was founded at Mitchell in 1947. It regularly met each year on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University until 1985, when it was moved to the campus of South Dakota State University, Brookings. In 2002, the program was moved to the University of South Dakota.
It is under the sponsorship of the South Dakota Department of the American Legion Auxiliary. From an enrollment of 117 girls in 1947, ALA SD Girls State has grown to its present enrollment of over 400 girls [David Lias, “South Dakota Girls State Kicks Off at USD on May 29,” Vermillion Plain Talk, 2023.05.26].
Girls State is getting more participants than Boys State. When I participated in Boys State up at Northern 35 years ago this week, I was one of over 600 boys sweating through a hot week of morning calisthenics and government simulation. Boys State had 398 participants in 2012, over 300 in 2015, and only 177 last year. The American Legion says it expects up to 350 boys to attend this year’s Boys State in Aberdeen.