'I am 12 years old and I would like to inform you of how offended and disappointed I am by the announcer of the Chesterland 4th of July parade’s comment about the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts,' she wrote.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on April 6, 2022. It has since been updated.
Julianne Speyer from Chesterland, Ohio, was marching with the Girl Scouts at a Fourth of July parade a couple of years ago when an offhand comment from the announcer ticked her off. Marching behind the Boy Scouts with her troop, the 12-year-old heard the announcer label the boys as "future leaders of America" while remarking that the girls were "just having fun." Disappointed and offended by his sexist remarks, Julianne decided to call him out on his careless words while reminding everyone that girls can be anything they want. Thus she sat down and penned a badass open letter to the editor of the Geauga County Maple Leaf that quickly went viral on social media.
"My name is Julianne Speyer. I am 12-years-old and I would like to inform you of how offended and disappointed I am by the announcer of the Chesterland 4th of July parade’s comment about the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts," the young girl wrote. "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 know how much this kind of thing 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," Julianne added. "Thank you for listening to me and I hope you can help me." Speaking to Cleveland 19 about her letter that went viral after locals posted it on social media, Julianne said: "It's not okay that they did this, this kind of thing happens way too often," she said. "I needed help getting the word out and I asked the news to help me."
Today is Julianne Speyer day! Two years ago, her letter to the editor about “Sexist Comments” went viral and we are all still so proud of this young lady. ICYMI, watch story here: https://t.co/2IekbbV64x Read about her here: https://t.co/PAJXmepTYF pic.twitter.com/nKiIJiyH31— Sia Nyorkor🎥🎞🎙📺 (@TVNewsLady) July 25, 2020
The young Girl Scout revealed that until she was encouraged by a friend to write a letter about her grievances. At the time, she didn't even know what a letter to the editor was. She ultimately penned the letter after referring to other letters. "She was very eloquent, expressed herself beautifully, and did it respectfully," Jennifer Speyer, a former English teacher and Julianne's mom said. "I went to work, I came home from work and she showed me what she accomplished on her own." Although her letter went viral across the country, the teen did not hear from anyone associated with the parade.
One of our favorite @girlscouts Julianne Speyer got a standing ovation @TODAYshow! She’s the 12-year-old who wrote the letter to the editor about sexist comments. WATCH this & my original report here: https://t.co/0151v6nR0n pic.twitter.com/A60yOvtiX1— Sia Nyorkor🎥🎞🎙📺 (@TVNewsLady) August 1, 2018
Parade organizers did eventually issue a statement addressing the matter, saying: "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." While Julianne holds no ill will toward the announcer, she wants people to know that "it's not wrong to stand up for what you believe in." The young girl credits her mother for her willingness to speak up. "She's always taught us to choose to be kind," Julianne noted. "You don't want to judge people based on their sex.
"Maybe in the future if no one beats me to the job I'll be the first girl president," Julianne added. "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." Not long after her letter went viral, the teen received a special surprise in the mail when the former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sent her a personal letter. Clinton—who is a former Girl Scout herself—praised Julianne for "using your voice to speak up" and "fighting for what is right is always worth it. Never forget that you are valuable, powerful, and worthy of every opportunity to fulfill your potential."
Ohio Girl Scout, Julianne Speyer, who wrote a viral letter to the editor of the Geauga County Maple Leaf about sexism 'ecstatic' to get a response from @HillaryClinton.— Hillary In Pictures (@HillaryPix) August 14, 2018
Clinton wrote that she was proud of Julianne for "using your voice to speak up." https://t.co/Umleb0ftF7 pic.twitter.com/fXTVFQYz3s