Creating 2SLGBTQIA+ Inclusive Communities in Saskatchewan's Parks and Recreation Industry

Written by Dallas Burnett.


As we celebrate both Parks and Recreation Month and Pride Month in June, it is crucial to reflect on the significance of diversity, equity and inclusivity within our communities. Parks and Recreation industry play a vital role in shaping vibrant and inclusive spaces for everyone. However, members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community continue to face barriers that hinder their full participation and enjoyment within these spaces. In this blog post, I will explore some challenges and barriers faced by the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Saskatchewan's Parks and Recreation industry and discuss actionable steps that communities and organizations can take to foster their 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion. 

It is important to note, identities and experiences within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are highly individual and can vary widely. Like many other diverse groups, individuals who identify within this 2SLGBTQIA+ community often get socially categorized, which can lead to stereotyping. "Categorizing others, rather than treating them as unique individuals with their own unique characteristics, has a wide variety of negative, and often very unfair, outcomes for those who are categorized” (Jhangiani and Tarry, 2022). It is always best to respect individuals' self-identifications and allow them to define their own experiences, rather than create assumptions or perpetuate stereotypes based on social categorization. 

Barriers Faced by 2SLGBTQIA+ People 

As mentioned before, every individual's experience is unique, and barriers will differ for each person. Intersectionality, support systems, and an individual's self-esteem all play a part in how they face and experience barriers. Below are a few examples of barriers faced by individuals who identify within this 2SLGBTQIA+ community. 
  • Stereotypes and Prejudice: Despite significant progress in recent years, prejudice and stereotypes still persist in society. Individuals identifying within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community often encounter discrimination, leading to feelings of exclusion and discomfort within parks and recreational spaces.      
  • Lack of Representation: Limited representation or visibility of 2SLGBTQIAA people in leadership roles within the Parks and Recreation industry can contribute to a sense of invisibility and marginalization. This absence makes it challenging for the community to feel fully welcomed and represented. 
  • Safety Concerns: Safety is a paramount concern for people within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in public spaces. Fear of harassment or violence can inhibit their ability to engage freely in recreational activities. Creating safe and inclusive spaces is essential to ensure the well-being and participation of those within the community. 

Importance of inclusivity and its positive impact on individuals and communities 

While there are many positive impacts to fostering inclusive communities, three examples include: 
  • Psychological Well-being: Inclusive environments that embrace and respect 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals contribute to their psychological well-being. When people are accepted for who they are, they experience a sense of belonging, reduced stigma, and improved mental health outcomes. This inclusivity fosters self-acceptance, self-esteem, and overall happiness.
  • Social Support and Connection: Inclusive environments create opportunities for 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals to connect with others who share similar experiences, challenges, and identities. These support networks help combat isolation, provide a sense of community, and offer spaces for shared experiences, resources, and advocacy. Social support is crucial for resilience, mental well-being, and personal development. 
  • Economic Growth: Inclusive spaces attract a diverse range of individuals, leading to economic benefits. 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals and allies actively seek out inclusive parks and recreational facilities, boosting tourism and local economies. 

Creating 2SLGBTQIA+ Inclusive Communities in Saskatchewan: 

To foster 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusivity, communities and organizations can take the following steps: 
  • Education and Training: Offer 2SLGBTQIA+ cultural competency training to staff members and the community. This training should address terminology, challenges faced by this community and strategies for creating inclusive environments. By fostering understanding and empathy, organizations can create more welcoming and safe spaces. SPRA hosts webinars and educational opportunities related to diversity and inclusion for our members. To learn more about these opportunities, or to collaborate on new initiatives, reach out to our Inclusion and Access Consultant, Kristin Bialobzyski, at:
  • Policy and Procedures: Review existing policies and procedures to ensure they align with 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive practices. This can include developing clear anti-discrimination and harassment policies, incorporating gender-neutral language in policy and ensuring facilities and services are inclusive. 
  • Representation and Visibility: Encourage 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals to participate in leadership or decision-making positions within the industry. Representation at all levels helps create a sense of belonging and validates the experiences of 2SLGBTQIA+ people. 
  • Safe Spaces in Facilities and Parks: Implement strategies to ensure the safety of 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals within parks and recreational spaces. This can include promoting zero-tolerance policies for discrimination and harassment, providing gender-neutral or universal restrooms, and training staff to handle incidents of bias effectively. 
  • Share Resources: Establish or support 2SLGBTQIA+ resource centers that provide information, support and referral services for individuals in need. These centers can serve as safe spaces and hubs for community members to access resources, socialize and seek support. 


As a gay man, I have personally faced the barriers mentioned in this post. For many years I was afraid I would be seen and treated differently if I shared this aspect of my identity with others. An unfortunate reality is that I have been in, and still occasionally find myself in, environments that are uncomfortable, non-inclusive, discriminatory, and unsafe. I am proud to be able to be open with this aspect of my identity, but I acknowledge that greater work needs to be done within the industry and communities to support fellow members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community who are not comfortable sharing this aspect of identity. On a personal level, it is simple minor changes that have created the most impact for me to feel more included. Simple changes like: 
  • Not asking questions that assume sexual orientation or identity.
  • Incorporating personal pronouns into introductions.  
  • Incorporating 2SLGBTQIA+ representation and visibility within media. 
  • Displaying acknowledgements within facilities which indicate the space is safe, discrimination free, and that anti-discrimination and harassment policies are enforced. 
 As we celebrate both Parks and Recreation Month and Pride Month in June, we must recognize the need for 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusivity. Communities and organizations can take actionable steps such as: Incorporating inclusion and training opportunities into their community or organization, amending policies and procedures to promote inclusivity, encouraging and supporting diversity within communities and organizations, promoting safe spaces within facilities and outdoor spaces, and incorporating a 2SLGBTQIA+ Resource Hub within their community.  

By taking such steps, communities and organizations can improve the wellbeing of their citizens and members, make people feel more connected in the community and create greater opportunities for economic growth. In following these steps, communities and organizations can reduce barriers for members of our community that identify as 2SLGBTQIA+. 

References & Resources: 

Jhangiani, R., & Tarry, H. (2022). Principles of social psychology (1st international H5P edition). BCcampus. 

Chan, A. S. W., Wu, D., Lo, I. P. Y., Ho, J. M. C., & Yan, E. (2022). Diversity and Inclusion: Impacts on Psychological Wellbeing Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Communities. Frontiers in psychology, 13, 726343. 

Kull, R. M. , Greytak, E. A. , Kosciw, J. G. & Villenas, C. (2016). Effectiveness of School District Antibullying Policies in Improving LGBT Youths’ School Climate. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 3 (4), 407-415. doi: 10.1037/sgd0000196.