Letter writer gains national attention

Anytime a national news show airs a story about a letter to the editor published in a local newspaper, my attention focuses quickly.

Add to that, a letter written by a 12-year-old girl in neighboring Geauga County to her local newspaper.

Then, further add that the topic of the letter was her eloquent argument in favor of equal treatment for boys and girls, and now you’ve really piqued my interest.

Girl Scout Julianne Speyer of Russell Township, about 52 miles northwest of Warren, chatted away articulately and without hesitation with national co-hosts Al Roker and Jenna Bush Hager on the set of NBC’s Today show Wednesday morning.

The story all began on the Fourth of July as she marched with her fellow Girl Scouts in the annual parade in Chesterland.

“I heard the announcer say, ‘Here come the Boy Scouts, folks. These are our future leaders of America,'” she relayed. “And then he said, ‘Right behind them, there are the Girl Scouts. They look like they’re having fun.’ And I just thought that was so rude. It just made me so frustrated. I couldn’t get why he said that.”

Prompted by Roker and Bush Hager, Julianne went on to read part of the letter she had written to the editor of the Geauga County Maple Leaf. The newspaper published the letter on its opinion page.

Here is part of the letter:

“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’s mother, English teacher Jennifer Speyer, who attended the New York City live broadcast along with her father, Michael Speyer, relayed that she had come home from work a few days later and Julianne told her she had written a letter to the editor.

She looked up the address on the Internet, bummed a postage stamp from her dad and mailed the letter.

Julianne received a standing ovation from the Today show’s studio audience.

West Geauga Kiwanis Club responded to Today by calling the comment “unfortunate” with “no disrespect intended.”

Sadly, even today, girls are sometimes taught not to be too aggressive or bossy — traits often frowned upon in girls. Boys who demonstrate the same behavior, however, often are described as brave future leaders.

To me, Julianne’s independent response — taking a stand and sharing her message even without the use of social media — is the true definition of courage and future leadership.

Bravo, Julianne! And bravo to her parents, Jennifer and Michael Speyer, for teaching her the importance not only of equality, but also of standing up publicly for what you believe is right.

Likewise, I will encourage all readers of the Tribune Chronicle to do the same! We love letters to the editor on current topics or issues up for debate.

It might be about an upcoming school levy, about President Trump’s latest decision, or like a letter you’ll see on this page today, about the need for easier ways to provide help for the needy who might just be down on their luck at the moment.

The Tribune Chronicle’s letter page is always a good place to speak out. Please send me your letters, follow the basic rules that we publish regularly, and send it via our Virtual Newsroom found at www.tribtoday.com; by email to editor@tribtoday.com, or by U.S. Postal Service at 240 Franklin Street SE, Warren, Ohio 44483.

Include your local community and a phone number for verification purposes.

I can’t wait to read your thoughts and then share them with our readers.