12-year-old Julianne Speyer was attending a Fourth of July parade in Chesterland, Ohio, when something caught her ear.
Speyer heard a parade announcer introduce the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in very different — and sexist — ways. The young resident of nearby Russell Township then described the experience in a letter published on July 19 in the Geauga County Maple Leaf newspaper.
“My name is Julianne Speyer,” her letter began. “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 announcer labeled the Boy Scouts as ‘future leaders of America,'” she continued, “and he said the Girls Scouts were ‘just having fun.'”
Um, this is 2018, right? Painting boys’ scouting work as leadership and girls’ as frivolity is ridiculous — especially considering the fact that Girl Scouts keeps kicking serious leadership butt.
Speyer eloquently explained her feelings about the announcement and why it was problematic.
“I found this comment very sexist and patronizing,” Speyer wrote. “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.”
This girl is only 12 and she’s schooling an entire newspaper’s readership on language that demeans young women. She’s also speaking truth to power, and doing so publicly.
You. Go. Girl.
Her action shows us exactly what a future leader looks like.
For a pre-teen to recognize when language promotes inequality is impressive. But for her to take the initiative to call out that language in a public space, to frankly — but respectfully — explain how those words are not acceptable, and to enlist those with more power to aid her in shedding light on the issue? It’s nothing short of inspiring.
“I have always been taught that if you think something is unjust, change it,” Speyer wrote. “So, this is how I am making a change.”
So many in this generation of young people know what’s up, and they appear to be primed and ready to challenge outdated norms. Our future is in good hands, folks.
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