By Ken Stone
A “girls-only” firefighter camp in San Diego has been canceled a day after a complaint by a local lawyer known for challenging single-sex events.
The San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation’s second annual Girls Empowerment Camp at the Naval Training Center was criticized by Alfred G. Rava, writing on behalf of fellow men’s rights activist Rich Allison.
“Mr. 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,” Rava wrote Thursday, citing the Unruh Civil Rights Act,a state law that bars gender discrimination.
He said he and Allison — an earlier client of his — applauded the city, fire agency “and anyone who participates in a free camp to teach adolescents how to save lives.”
But Rava said “San Diego boys, as well as San Diego girls, should know the important steps to respond to and to revive a grandfather or grandmother in cardiac duress.”
On Friday, City Attorney Mara Elliott wrote: “Dear Mr. Rava: Our office is in receipt of your February 22, 2018, letter. The event has been cancelled.”
“My wish is that the organizers carry out my client’s request and soon put on a free, two-day ‘Girls and Boys Empowerment Camp’ where both girls and boys can learn how to save lives and be empowered to be whatever they want to be when they grow up,” he said.In a San Diego Union-Tribune story on the now-snuffed March 3-4 event, one of its founders said: “We wanted to empower these young women so they knew they could be whatever they want to be when they grow up.”
Jeri Miuccio, the co-founder, told Times of San Diego via Facebook on Friday night that “we took everyone that applied for the camp. We don’t ask gender. False allegations. So sad that so many young campers are not going to have a great experience now. It’s just sad.”
Miuccio, an award-winning engineer with the fire department, offered no other details.
The City Attorney’s Office, fire department and foundation leaders didn’t respond to requests for comment.
In a phone interview, Allison said he sought to enroll his 17-year-old son in the two-day event after learning about it in January. He thought his son, interested in a public service career, would benefit. But he said he was left hanging.
“As soon as I applied, they closed the thing,” said Allison, a retired Marine captain. “They weren’t accepting anyone afterward. I know some people applied with their kids afterwards and they weren’t accepting anybody.”
The Point Loma resident said he sent follow-up emails “and it was just silence. … The foundation never replied back to any of my inquiries…. They just pretended I didn’t exist.”
Asked what he would say to disappointed girls — as many as 100 — Allison said: “I’m disappointed as well. The firefighter foundation should have opened it up to any kid that’s interested in going to their event.”
Allison has appeared in several Rava lawsuits as a plaintiff suing for damages by being denied entry to ladies only events.
Was he angling to sue in this case and collect a settlement?
“No,” Allison said. “The whole thing is: I strongly believe in equality. … They’re treating women more equal than men.”
He brought up the tech industry, saying: “They hire a lot of women, but a lot of women just don’t stick around in those types of positions that are tech-focused — because they gravitate towards more of like the management side. They don’t stay technically proficient…. I don’t think it’s fair to be catering to favor one side.”
His son — who he said attends a private school in Carlsbad — wasn’t available Friday night for an interview. The father said the teen was taking an online Spanish exam.
“He’s at a testing center,” Allison said. “He’s going to give me a call as soon as he’s done.”
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