Fostering an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Environment in Parks and Recreation — Episode 094

By Cort Jones | Posted on June 29, 2021

EP 94 410 blog

As we continue to lift up stories of inclusion in celebration of Pride Month, my colleagues Allison Colman, NRPA’s director of health, and Teresa Morrisey, a program manager on NRPA’s Park Access team, recently published a blog post on the Open Space blog titled, “A Pathway to Trans Inclusion in Youth Sports.” I highly recommend checking it out to learn more about building more inclusive environments where all people, regardless of their gender identity or expression, are welcomed, accepted and fully able to participate in park and recreation facilities and programming — including recreational sports. One of the individuals featured in the blog post was Peyton O’Conner, AICP, CPRE, CNP, CYSA (they/she), the parks and recreation director for Buncombe County in Asheville, North Carolina. I’m thrilled to welcome Peyton to the show today to have a conversation around LGBTQ+ inclusion in parks and rec, as well as discuss the good work they’re doing in Buncombe County.

When NRPA released guidance on transgender inclusion in youth sports back in April, Peyton reached out in support, and expressed the need for expanding this guidance to adult recreational sports, as well. Peyton has been instrumental in advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusion in their community and in park and recreation programming, and has been on a mission to implement an inclusion policy for trans kids at their agency. And, as we’re also looking ahead to Park and Recreation Month in July and this year’s theme of “Our Park and Recreation Story,” I thought it would be a great opportunity for listeners to hear Peyton’s story, as well.

Tune in to the full episode below to learn more about how Peyton is using their own experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community to advocate for creating more inclusive spaces and programs in parks and recreation. You’ll also learn:

  • What compelled Peyton to reach out to NRPA when they first noticed the guidance on transgender inclusion in youth sports.
  • The importance of approaching conversations about LGBTQ+ inclusion the same as any other anti-discrimination policy — based on a set of facts and not up for discussion or debate.
  • How Peyton’s agency realized they needed a formal inclusion policy for trans kids, and how their staff and community responded.
  • How park and recreation professionals can advocate for more inclusive policies in their own communities.
  • How small changes, like using individuals’ preferred pronouns and gender-neutral restrooms, can have a huge impact, and much more!

Listen to the episode for the full story.


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