This Girl Scout's Letter Points Out Blatant Sexism, And People Are Loving It

"I have always been taught that if you think something is unjust, change it."

While attending a Fourth of July parade in Chesterland, Ohio, Julianne Speyer, a 12-year-old Girl Scout, recognized the announcer's sexist language when comparing her group to the local Boy Scouts. Speyer immediately wrote a letter to the editor of the Geauga County Maple Leaf, her local newspaper, calling out the announcer's offensive words in a public forum. This week, the letter has gone viral on Twitter, and for good reason. 

"My name is Julianne Speyer," the young girl wrote. "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." 

According to Speyer's letter, the announcer labeled the Boy Scouts as "future leaders of America," while the Girl Scouts were "just having fun."

"I found this comment very sexist and patronizing," Speyer explained. "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," she added. "So, this is how I am making a change."

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In recent years, the Boy Scouts of America have made strides to reduce sexism within the organization. For instance, in May, the group announced plans to adopt a more gender-neutral name — Scouts BSA — by February 2019. Scouts BSA will admit both boys and girls for the first time in the organization's history in an attempt to breakdown the stereotypical gender barriers. One Twitter user, however, used the opportunity to highlight the Girl Scouts' decision to exclude boys, but the group was quick to reply with a message of empowerment.

"Research shows that a girl learns best in an all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environment," the Girl Scouts' Twitter account said in response to one naysayer's comment about sexism. "Girl Scouts pro-girl environment is now more important than ever—and the proof is in the research."

"The inclusive, all-female environment of a Girl Scout troop creates a safe space where girls can try new things, develop a range of skills, take on leadership roles, and just be themselves," the Girl Scouts' website explains. "Whether she's building a robotic arm, coding her first app, building a shelter in the backcountry, or packing for her first hike, a Girl Scout has an exciting array of choices to suit her interests at every age."

Regardless, the majority of Twitter users were quick to praise Speyer, lauding the Girl Scout for standing up for herself.  

"If you, like me, did not know what 'patronizing' meant at age 12, or did not have the sociocultural awareness to notice the nuanced linguistic distinctions between the way adults describe Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, you're not alone," Fessler writes for Quartz at Work. "While we can't assume that Speyer's progressive fluency represents tectonic shifts among her entire generation, in an era when headlines are dominated by alleged sexual predators, people like Speyer provide a much-needed ray of hope that the next generation of feminist activists are arming themselves with the knowledge, vocabulary, and ambition to dismantle the mess they've inherited."

As Fessler notes, Speyer's ability to put pen to paper and express dissatisfaction so eloquently, and publicly, at her young age defines bravery.

Cover image via MNStudio / Shutterstock

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