As shared by Samantha “Sam” Dietz, YES Institute Board Vice-Chairperson
Since I was a little kid, my relationship with gender has been working strongly behind the scenes of my inner world. During elementary school, I was a “tomboy”. My parents did a great job supporting me and allowed me to express myself however I wanted. They also did their best to explain to me the reality of gender biases in the world and mostly sent me messages of strength and capability.
In 1977, at nine years old, I wanted to play baseball in the neighborhood league. I was told I was one of three girls who signed up to play in the league. This had never been done before. I was told that because I was a girl, I would have to wait until there was a vote tallied from the parents in the entire league as to whether or not I would be allowed to play.
I felt angry, sad and confused. I felt ashamed I was a girl. The thought of knowing there was a large community of adults voting on my worthiness as a person made me feel vulnerable and scared – like I did not belong. I figured I’d prove them wrong if I had a chance.
The vote came in and I was allowed to play alongside the boys. Back then, this was a big deal. The performance was on. I believed if I played well enough, then my feelings of being “less-than” and being an outsider would go away. I played well. One year, I was pitcher for the all-star team.
As the sole girl in these team activities, I experienced both positive and negative responses from others, of all ages. Some people were nice, loving and supportive. Others, adults and children, expressed hurtful, degrading, and rejecting expressions towards me.
Today, there are many girls playing alongside the boys in the local baseball league. My two daughters, now 20 and 22, have more confidence in many areas of their lives than I did when I was their age. They are equipped to spot when gender bias is operating in their lives and counteract that bias with strong internal and external messages of worthiness and capability.
Gender affects everyone. Being part of YES Institute allows me, alongside other adults and youth, to dive deeper and seek greater authenticity into who we all truly are – inside and out.
YES Institute’s education and powerful communication provides an opportunity for us all to be a part of helping each other on our journeys to freedom. The lives of our youth depend on it.