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Leisure for LGBTQ individuals

This is an excerpt from Dimensions of Leisure for Life 2nd Edition With HKPropel Access by Tyler Tapps,Mary Sara Wells,Mary S. Wells & Mary Parr.

By Linda Oakleaf

As recreation providers, it is our job to ensure that we are inclusive of everyone, including members of the LGBTQ community. There is currently comparatively little research about the needs of LGBTQ people, partly because this is not a group that many recreation agencies have sought out as participants. As attitudes toward the LGBTQ community have shifted, more and more agencies are starting to serve this population. When members of this community are looking for leisure spaces, one thing they focus on is their estimation of the likely presence or absence of discriminatory attitudes (Barbosa & Liechty, 2018; Oakleaf & Richmond, 2017). One key to serving this community is to communicate to all users that you are welcoming of LGBTQ individuals. You can do this through equitable policies and inclusive staff training and by working with your local LGBTQ organizations.

There have long been leisure opportunities designed by and for LGBTQ individuals. LGBTQ-specific bars, community centers, hotels, and cruises have provided leisure spaces for LGBTQ people and their families. However, these spaces themselves are not always equitable. White, affluent gay men are often more welcome in LGBTQ spaces than, for example, Black, homeless, transgender people (Knee, 2019). None of the groups discussed in this chapter are monolithic, and it is incumbent on us to see the multiple dimensions of diversity in any given group.

For recreation agencies to be inclusive of transgender individuals, it is necessary to address both programming and facilities. Recreation providers frequently provide programs that are just for men or boys or just for women or girls. In sports that are coed, there are frequently requirements that a certain number of people on the team be female. Agencies should think carefully about whether gender-segregated programs are really necessary. When agencies do provide these programs, they should ensure that their policies are inclusive of everyone. Agencies should have a written policy that allows participants to choose the most appropriate programs for themselves. Policies that require transgender participants to provide birth certificates, IDs, or documentation from medical providers constitute a real barrier to participation and are not inclusive practices.

Participants who are transgender should be able to use the locker room, shower, and restroom facilities that are consistent with their gender identity. Showers with curtains are safer for transgender participants than open showers, and the setup of showers and locker rooms should maximize privacy to the largest extent possible. Family showers and locker rooms should be available, but organizations should not require that they be used by all transgender patrons. It is extremely rare for providers to create programs that are aimed at transgender or intersex people, although this is changing. Some recreation departments host events like an all-bodies swim that are specifically aimed at transgender participants. Reach out to transgender groups and individuals in your community to learn about their needs and interests.

More Excerpts From Dimensions of Leisure for Life 2nd Edition With HKPropel Access