While marching in a Fourth of July parade, a young Ohioan heard comments about her Girl Scout troop that she was not OK with. After weeks of thinking about how unacceptable she thought the comments were, she wrote a letter to her local newspaper, which was published on Wednesday and swiftly went viral. Now, 12-year-old Julianne Speyer's letter to the editor about sexist comments shows that the next generation of feminist leaders is rising.
In a letter to the editor of the Geauga County Maple Leaf, Julianne wrote that the parade announcer at the Chesterland, Ohio, Fourth of July parade talked about the Boy Scout troop marching as "future leaders of America." In comparison, her Girl Scout troop members — who were marching behind the Boy Scouts in the annual parade — were referred to as "just having fun."
Julianne wrote that the comment was "very sexist and patronizing." In fact, she wrote, these types of comments are "an insult to both girls and women of all ages." Julianne wanted to call attention to how often women of all ages hear comments like this. "This kind of thing happens way too much, and it is not OK at all," she wrote.
In an interview with Cleveland 19, the CBS affiliate in Cleveland, Julianne's mother, Jennifer, said her daughter wrote and mailed the letter on her own." She was very eloquent, expressed herself beautifully, and did it respectfully,” Jennifer Speyer said.
Organizers of the parade called the comments "an unfortunate misunderstanding. In a statement, the organizers said, "There was an unfortunate misunderstanding of two unrelated comments. The announcer is a volunteer and made an observation that participants were enjoying the parade, with no disrespect intended."
Here's Julianne's full letter:
My name is Julianne Speyer. I am 12 years old and I would like to inform you how offended and disappointed I am by the announce of the Chesterland 4th of July parade’s comment about the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
The announcer labeled the Boy Scouts as “future leaders of America” and he said the Girl Scouts were “just having fun.”
I found this comment very sexist and patronizing. I would appreciate it if you would help me to let other people how much this kind of happens and how bad it is. I feel it is an insult to both girls and women of all ages. This kind of thing happens way too much and it is not OK at all.
I have always been taught that if you think something is unjust change it. So, this is how I am making a change.
Thank you for listening to me and I hope you can help me.
The letter went so viral that Julianne will be on the Today show in New York City next week, according to WOIO. And in response to Julianne's viral letter, a woman established a GoFundMe to raise money for Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, which is the parent organization of Julianne's troop. (The fundraiser was not started by the Girl Scouts organization.)
Julianne told the television station that she wasn't sure if the male announcer meant for his comments to be malicious, but that it "definitely didn't seem right either way."
In her letter, she also wrote that she wants to create change. It makes sense then that Julianne told the television station that she wants to be president someday. "Maybe in the future if no one beats me to the job I'll be the first girl president,” she said.
"I could scream the message that girls can be anything they want to be, they can be in charge someday. We can be the leaders of America," Julianne added.