Girls empowerment camp rescheduled after abrupt cancellation

Posted at 11:38 PM, Mar 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-02 07:25:23-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – After an abrupt cancellation, a firefighting camp aimed at empowering young women has been rescheduled, according to the San Diego Mayor’s office. 

In a statement to 10News, Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s spokesperson Greg Block wrote:

“This camp is about having fun and introducing young people to the possibilities of a rewarding career in firefighting. Families have been looking forward to this event for weeks, and Mayor Faulconer is not going to allow the threat of a lawsuit stop it from happening. The Mayor has directed staff to reschedule the camp as soon as possible and we will share more details soon.”

The event was canceled on January 23, a day after attorney Al Rava sent a letter to the City Attorney and organizers of the event.

The letter claimed Rava’s client, Rich Allison, was “deterred and prevented from timely enrolling his son in this camp because boys were not invited to attend, based solely on their sex.” 

10News reached out to Rava after Mayor Faulconer decided to reschedule the camp. Here is the email conversation in full:

10News: What is your reaction to this?

Attorney:   What "threat of a lawsuit" is the Mayor's office referring to in its announcement. Did someone threaten a lawsuit?

I ask because my letter to the City Attorney for the City of San Diego and the San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation did not say a word - zero, zilch, nada - about any lawsuit. All my letter, which was the only communication with the City and Foundation about this No Boys Allowed Empowerment Camp, asked was that the organizers "please . . . reschedule this otherwise excellent program for a later date this year, and invite both boys and girls to attend so both boys and girls can learn how to save lives and be empowered to be whatever they want to be when they grow up."  Therefore, the media may want to ask the Mayor's office who threatened a lawsuit about this and you may want to contact that person or persons.

10News: Are you planning on continuing with a lawsuit?

Attorney:   You asked below, "Are you planning on continuing with a lawsuit?"   A. What are you talking about when you write "continuing with a lawsuit?"  What lawsuit?  As explained above and as is clear in my only communication with the City or the Foundation on this matter, the attached letter, neither I nor my client ever planned or ever mentioned a lawsuit about this.

10News: Does Mr. Allison plan on re-enrolling his son in the event?

Attorney:  I don't know if Mr. Allison, or if either of the two other local dads who contacted me after this story was publicized in the past week, and who also tried to register their sons with their male-sounding first names for this year's Camp but just like what happened to Mr. Allison - the organizers ignored these two other dad's applications, will resubmit applications for their sons.  Can boys now register? Is it now going to be a "Girls And Boys Empowerment Camp," or will it maintain its "Girls"-only name?

10News: Your letter says “it is morally and legally wrong to teach and empower only girls or only boys,” yet we understand Mr. Allison’s son attends an all-boys school. What is the difference between an all-boys school and a camp designed to empower women?

Attorney:  I don’t know if Mr. Allison's son attends an all-boys school, but for a San Diego area boy or girl, if there is an area all-girls school or an all-boys school for which a boy or girl, respectively, cannot attend because of their gender, there are all-boys or all-girls or coed alternatives that the boys or girls, respectively can attend, but there were no other taxpayer-funded "Boys Empowerment Camp," "Teen Empowerment Camp," or "All 14 To 18-Year-Olds, No Matter Your Sex Camp," like this Camp, for area boys to attend.  Plus, a private all-girls or all-boys school is not a government entity that has to comply with the equal protection clauses of the United States and California Constitutions, or with California Government Code section 11135, with the latter law prohibiting government entities from discriminating against people based on their gender.