Exploring the Use of a Gender Equity Lens in Local Government Recreation Policies
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This single instrumental case study sought to explore how a local government recreation department applies gender equity in its policies. Relying on Merriam’s (2009) case study approach and the Advocacy Coalition Framework developed by Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith (1988) and adapted by Jenkins-Smith, Nohrstedt, Weible, and Sabatier (2014), the perspectives of ten recreation professionals within an Ontario local government recreation department were examined through document analysis and semi-structured interviews. This study uncovered the complexities surrounding meanings associated with gender equity and strategies and related challenges when trying to operationalize gender equity into new and existing policies. Findings contributed to existing research gaps by uncovering four key themes: (1) foundations of gender equity policy in parks, recreation and culture, (2) information and guiding principles that direct practice, (3) fostering gender equity and inclusivity, and (4) challenges associated with gender equity. This study contributed to existing policy studies by identifying subsystem actors including city staff from other departments, library services, emergency services, and elected officials, Inclusivity Advisory Committee, users’ groups, and private organizations (i.e., Girl’s Hockey League, Minor Hockey Association, Skating Club, Ringette League), and individual residents who presented short-term constraints and resources for recreation professionals who sought to advance inclusion and gender equity goals. The findings of this study highlighted a need to increase gender equity policy awareness, policy support for transgender community members, dialogue between subsystem actors to establish concrete understandings of gender equity and gain support from the public to advance gender equity goals.