Building Inclusive Communities in Youth Sport for Lesbian-Parented Families

in Journal of Sport Management
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  • 1 Brock University

This interpretative study examines the complexities of lesbian parents’ experiences in organized youth sport programs. Specifically, it seeks to understand youth sport as a potential site for social change that facilitates a sense of inclusive community for diverse family structures. Using thematic analysis, the author examines perspectives of nine participants from Australia, Canada, and the United States. Emphasis is placed on how the lesbian parents (a) negotiate heightened visibility, sexual stigma, and parental judgment; (b) foster social relationships through participation, volunteerism, and positive role models; and (c) create shared understanding toward building an inclusive sport culture. The findings call attention to the importance of intentional and unintentional acts (by families as well as sport organizations) that create a sense of community and an inclusive organizational culture. The connection of lesbian parents’ experiences to broader concepts, such as sexual stigma and transformative services, are also examined within the context of youth sport.

Our job as parents is to nurture our children. To love our children and to help them become productive citizens in the world. And when you’re “out” in the world, we come in contact with all different kinds of people. So what better way to nourish those relationships—but to have the kids be together. (Parent A, Family 6, United States)

The collective evidence points to the need for sport organizations to understand the sometimes, arguably, hostile environments for athletes, coaches, and employees of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) identities (e.g., Carless, 2012; Cunningham, 2015b). Although there have been subtle shifts in how diverse sexual identities and trans identities are perceived in sport organizations, recent evidence suggests that homophobia and prejudice persist. Despite commitment to, and support for, diversity in sport organizations (e.g., Cunningham, 2015a), this failure may be due to leaders’ lack of expertise in diversity policy creation and management, or it may reflect individual prejudicial attitudes and beliefs (Cunningham & Pickett, 2018; Shaw, 2019). As Spaaij, Knoppers, and Jeanes (2019) point out, change is slow: “While at the macro level the rhetoric of the discourse of diversity has arguably become normalized . . . much of the (overt) resistance to it—and therefore to inclusion of marginalized groups—seems to occur at the micro level” (p. 3). Indeed, at the microlevel, athletes who identify as LGBTQ may confront overt silencing practices, such as the clubs’ denial of homophobic actions by other members (Spaaij et al., 2019).

Although current research has examined the perspectives of both athletes (e.g., Petty & Trussell, 2018) and organizations (e.g., Shaw, 2019), parents who identify as LGBTQ and the impact of these identities on their family’s involvement in community youth sport have received limited attention in the sport literature. This is problematic as parents who identify as LGBTQ experience everyday injustices, fear sexual stigma, and confront assumptions of heterosexuality while they support their children in community youth sport (Trussell, Kovac, & Apgar, 2018). In turn, this may have implications on the parents’ (and consequently their children’s) short- and long-term involvement with a community sport organization.

Yet, as Herek and McLemore (2013) make clear, the most powerful instigator to reduce sexual prejudice for a heterosexual person is through having a close relationship with a friend, relative, or associate who identifies as LGBTQ. As alluded to in the opening participant quote, community youth sport has the potential to be a “site for social change that builds community” (Warner, Dixon, & Leierer, 2015, p. 46) and may create or enhance a space for shared understanding and relationship building among families. As Warner and Dixon (2011) argued, “Creating and fostering a sense of community (SOC) within sport is important because of its potential to improve the life quality of those associated with sport organizations and programs” (p. 257). In spite of the prominence of building a sense of community in understanding athletes’ experiences, limited research has investigated parental experiences within the context of community youth sport (see notable exception by Warner et al., 2015). Moreover, little research currently exists that explores how cultural ideologies that create a sense of otherness (e.g., sexual stigma) may be negotiated through youth sport to help foster inclusive communities.

In this study, I seek to extend this work by examining the complexities of lesbian parents’1 experiences in community youth sport organizations. Specifically, I seek to understand youth sport as a potential site for social change that facilitates a sense of inclusive community for diverse family structures. The perspectives of parents who identify as lesbian are highlighted as sport has long been thought of as an institution that privileges male hegemony and promotes social exclusion (e.g., Fink, 2016; Frisby & Miller, 2002). Furthermore, research has examined parents who identify as LGBTQ in organized youth sport as a group (e.g., Trussell et al., 2018) even though experiences of diverse identities may be inherently different. Recent evidence suggests focusing on one particular identity. For example, trans prejudice may be different than lesbian, gay, and bisexual prejudice and, in turn, require additional interventions and prejudice reduction efforts (Cunningham & Pickett, 2018). As such, this research extends this line of inquiry with an in-depth investigation on the specific intricacies of one particular group—lesbian parents. In doing so, it provides a more nuanced account and advances understanding of the multiple ways that lesbian parents may be involved in the youth sport system not only as a parent but also as a youth sport volunteer and/or partner of a youth sport volunteer. An in-depth understanding of diverse parental experiences is an important perspective as parents are the primary providers, interpreters, leaders, and volunteers of the youth sport experience (Cuskelly, 2005; Dixon, Warner, & Bruening, 2008; Warner et al., 2015).

This study includes areas of literature not usually considered together, including Warner and Dixon’s Sport and Sense of Community theory (2011, 2013) as well as Spaaij, Magee, and Jeanes’s (2014) inclusive community criteria. This research extends these frameworks by examining diverse perspectives and experiences, specifically those of lesbian-parented families. Herek, Gillis, and Cogan’s (2015) social psychological framework on sexual stigma also provides a useful lens to consider the ways a parent’s sexual identity might alter their experiences in community youth sport. Finally, this study advances insight on youth sport as a vehicle for transformative change, particularly as much of the sport research has focused on the negative consequences of sexual stigma. As demonstrated by this special issue, with an increasing focus on transformative service research (TSR) in sport management (e.g., Dickson, Darcy, Johns, & Pentifallo, 2016), the need to improve the individual and collective lives of sport consumers and citizens (e.g., diverse family structures in community youth sport) is increasingly relevant.

Theoretical Background

Sport and Sexual Stigma

Reflecting broader societal values and legislation, there is evidence of improved social attitudes that demonstrate growing inclusivity, greater acceptance of LGBTQ identities, and a sense of decreasing cultural homophobia within the sporting context (e.g., Adams & Anderson, 2012; Norman, 2013). Yet, heterosexism is still prevalent in sport and is a mechanism for social exclusion. Indeed, sport cultures have been found to be unwelcoming and sometimes, arguably, hostile environments for athletes, coaches, and administrators with LGBTQ identities (e.g., Carless, 2012; Cunningham, 2015b; Oswalt & Vargas, 2013; Satore & Cunningham, 2009). For coaches and administrators, sport is governed by the attitudes and values of the dominant group (e.g., male, heterosexual) that act to reproduce and maintain the theoretical tenets of hegemonic masculinity rather than be governed by policy aimed at equality and inclusion of underrepresented groups (Walker & Sartore-Baldwin, 2013). As Walker and Melton (2015) contend in their research on minority lesbians’ disadvantaged status, “individuals who do not fit these norms usually do not gain access to or maintain membership in sport institutions” (p. 268) and may leave the sporting culture to find more welcoming and inclusive environments.

Herek’s social psychological perspective for understanding sexual stigma provides a useful framework for sport scholars to consider the ways a person’s sexual identity might alter their experiences in sport (see, e.g., Cunningham & Melton, 2012; Petty & Trussell, 2018). As summarized in Herek et al. (2015), “This framework starts from a cultural analysis of how sexuality is socially constructed and how social categories based on sexuality reflect power and status inequalities” (p. 19). The concept of sexual stigma is constructed through shared social knowledge that LGBTQ behaviors, identity, relationships, or communities have a devalued status relative to heterosexuality (Herek et al., 2015). Moreover, sexual stigma is legitimated and perpetuated through dominant ideologies and “is both embedded in the institutions of society and internalized by individuals” (Herek, 2015, p. S33). In short, LGBTQ people may have less control and power over what happens in their own lives due to their marginalized, and often invisible, status (Herek, 2015).

Against the backdrop of heterosexism,2 Herek et al. (2015) write that all individuals (regardless of their sexual orientation) can experience sexual stigma in at least three ways. First, enacted sexual stigma “is expressed behaviorally through actions such as shunning, ostracism, the use of antigay epithets, overt discrimination, and violence” (p. 19). Enacted stigma may be directed toward anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, as any member of society can potentially be perceived as LGBTQ.

Felt stigma is the second manifestation of sexual stigma and constitutes “expectations about the probability that stigma enactments will occur in a particular situation or under specific circumstances” (Herek et al., 2015, p. 20). Similar to enacted stigma, felt stigma may be experienced by anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. Felt stigma can motivate individuals to modify their behaviors and to use various self-presentation strategies to avoid being the target of stigma acts (Herek et al., 2015). For example, as Herek et al. (2015) explain, it can lead to individuals concealing or denying their LGBTQ identity or avoiding gender nonconformity or physical contact with same-sex friends. Recent sport management research provides evidence of how lesbian sport administrators and coaches conceal their sexual identity in fear of perceived discrimination as they lack social and organizational support (Walker & Melton, 2015). For some women, this involved active identity management techniques to appear heterosexual (i.e., displaying femininity), whereas for others it involved lying about their lesbian identity to their peers to “ensure their secret remained hidden” (Walker & Melton, 2015, p. 266).

Finally, a “third manifestation is internalized sexual stigma—a heterosexual or sexual minority individual’s personal acceptance of sexual stigma as part of her or his own value system” (Herek et al., 2015, p. 20). For heterosexuals, internalized stigma is performed through negative attitudes toward sexual minorities, which Herek et al. (2015) refer to as popular concepts such as sexual prejudice, homophobia, homonegativity, and heterosexism. Moreover, as Herek et al. (2015) write, for LGBTQ individuals, internalized stigma can be experienced both inwardly (e.g., negative attitudes harbored toward themselves) and outwardly (e.g., holding negative attitudes toward other LGBTQ individuals). Sport scholars have revealed how inwardly internalized sexual stigma is experienced by young people and how it negatively impacts sport experiences during the high school years (Melton & Cunningham, 2012; Petty & Trussell, 2018). Young people also experience internalized sexual stigma from coaches, teammates, teachers, and parents, and these relationships influence their sport engagement by causing them to search for safe and inclusive spaces (Petty & Trussell, 2018).

It is clear, too, that recent shifts in public attitudes toward greater acceptance of individuals who identify as LGBTQ illustrate how the socially constructed concept of sexual stigma may be disrupted through cultural shifts as well as legislative and policy changes (Herek, 2015). The recent shifts reflect “more accepting younger generations as well as reductions in prejudice in many individual heterosexuals” (Herek & McLemore, 2013, p. 326). Improved social attitudes toward sexual orientation have also permeated into sport settings (Norman, 2013). As Trussell et al. (2018) contend, even though a culture of heterosexism and sexual prejudice is entrenched in the youth sport culture, many community sport organizations are open to change once oppressive policies and program designs are made visible through advocacy and education about inclusive practices. Furthermore, it is through inclusive behaviors and practices that the potential to create a sense of community for diverse family structures lies.

Building Inclusive Sport Communities

Sports are social spaces that provide rich memories (both positive and negative) and create meaningful personal, social, and cultural experiences for an individual (Coakley & Donnelly, 2009). Sport also fosters larger social networks and a sense of community that brings people together. In this sense, community sport is positioned as an important social hub and central gathering place that provides more than physical benefits for the athlete (Mair, 2009; Tonts, 2005).

Drawing on sense of community research (e.g., Gusfield, 1975; McMillan & Chavis, 1986; Sarason, 1974), Warner et al. (Warner & Dixon, 2011, 2013; Warner, Dixon, & Chalip, 2012) propose a sport and community building theory. Depending on the sporting context (e.g., elite athletes vs. club sports in the collegiate context), this theory contends that seven fundamental factors provide the necessary basis for “community” in sport, including Administrative Considerations, Common Interest, Competition, Equity in Administrative Decisions, Leadership Opportunities, Social Spaces, and Voluntary Action (Warner, Kerwin, & Walker, 2013). However, as Warner et al. (2012) point out, it is important to explore sport variations and contexts to “allow a deeper and broader understanding of a sense of community in sport” (p. 998). For example, a study that examined the role of a youth sport program in fostering a sense of community for parents finds that the child’s experience, clear logistics, administrative consideration, and equity in administrative decisions are the most salient elements (Warner et al., 2015). At the same time, there are several factors that did not emerge in the same study, such as Social Spaces, Voluntary Action, Competition, and Leadership Opportunities.

Focusing on issues of social identities and inclusion, Spaaij et al. (2014) emphasize that “participation alone does not equate to social inclusion”; the authors contend that an inclusive community is one “whereby everyone is respected, equal and has the same opportunities to take part” (p. 141). As the authors point out, there is no singular definition of an inclusive community; however, they suggest the following criteria: (a) all people have access to the same sports opportunities, facilities, and resources; (b) all people have the opportunity not only to play sport but also to participate in administration and organization, irrespective of who they are; and (c) all people feel part of the sports community they participate in and experience a sense of belonging within it.

Closely aligned with the concept of social inclusion is TSR, defined as “service research that centers on creating uplifting changes and improvement in the well-being of both individuals and communities” (Ostrom et al., 2010, p. 9). A key feature of TSR is to understand the disparities in the quality of services to different groups, including individuals and communities, while focusing on their well-being (Dickson et al., 2016; Ostrom et al., 2010). Furthermore, TSR represents a deliberate attempt to enhance the lives of people with marginalized identities such as race, ethnicity, income, and sexual orientation (Rosenbaum, 2015).

Key studies in sport scholarship point to the importance of TSR in understanding diverse identities. For example, Dickson et al. (2016) use the TSR framework to understand transformative services and sport event accessibility for people with disabilities. As the authors point out, TSR is a “research philosophy, rather than a methodology or theory” (p. 537) that identifies barriers to inclusion and makes an important contribution to the service literature and practice. Scholars such as Frisby (2005) have long called for research that investigates the transformative potential of sport, focusing on implications for practice and new ways of operating.

Thus, youth sport is an important part of community life, and, although there may be divisive attitudes and behaviors, it has the potential to help facilitate shared understanding and social change through transformative services. Sensitized by sport and a sense of community theory (i.e., Warner & Dixon, 2011, 2013), inclusive sports communities criteria (i.e., Spaaij et al., 2014), sexual stigma framework (Herek et al., 2015), and TSR (e.g., Ostrom et al., 2010), this study seeks to understand the complexities of lesbian parents’ experiences in community youth sport programs. Finally, etymologically, the philosophical assumptions that guide this study conceptualize TSR as the potential for change rather than as an assumed outcome or result (Watson, Tucker, & Drury, 2013).

Methods

Theoretical Perspective

For this study, general concepts of feminism provide the guiding theoretical perspective. Feminism challenges the utility of concepts like objectivity and universality (Hesse-Biber, 2007). Knowledge, feminists advocate, is developed through understanding the uniqueness of people’s lives and experiences that are embedded within a system of patriarchy. A dominant theme in feminist research is the recognition of “differences among women and within the same groups of women and the recognition that multiple identities and subjectivities are constructed in particular historical and social contexts” (Olesen, 2013, p. 268). Similar to many feminist scholars, I use a critical social constructivist lens, whereby human activity is constructed through dialogue, discourse, and social practices (Freysinger, Shaw, Henderson, & Bialeschki, 2013). A feminist constructivist lens interrogates how dominant “discourses or ideologies, such as those associated with femininity, ‘the family’ or sexuality are socially constructed and reproduced” (Freysinger et al., 2013, p. 73).

Feminist sport management scholars have challenged the way in which gendered discourses shape the interactions, practices, and structures of sport organizations and maintain sport’s patriarchal, heterosexist norms (e.g., Fink, 2016; Shaw & Frisby, 2006; Shaw & Hoeber, 2003). A feminist approach aligns well with the examination of the experiences of lesbian-parented families in community youth sport as assumptions of heteronormativity are implicit, and sport becomes a vehicle for social exclusion. Satore and Cunningham (2010) write that, in sport, “characteristics such as gender, sex, and sexuality do not only take the form of identities, but also social positions that possess societal status and power” (Burman, 2002, p. 495–496).

Data Collection

With the exploratory nature of the study and the focus on the subjective experiences of the participants, an inductive qualitative approach was appropriate (Shaw & Hoeber, 2016). The participants came from an initial study that included an online asynchronous focus group with parents who identified as LGBTQ. Original recruitment for the parents occurred through social media channels (i.e., Facebook and Twitter), and a total of 73 parents participated in the study from Australia, Canada, and the United States. The focus of this initial study was to broadly understand the LGBTQ parents’ experiences of the design and management of community youth sport programs.

After completion of the online focus group (see Trussell et al., 2018 for a full description of the study), parents were contacted 1 year later to see if they would be interested in participating in a second phase to advance insights on the original study. A total of nine lesbian parents (representing six families) responded to the call: five of the participants were from Canada, one parent from Australia, and three parents from the United States. Guided by the theoretical frameworks of Sport and Sense of Community Theory (Warner & Dixon, 2011, 2013) as well as inclusive community criteria (Spaaij et al., 2014), this study was distinguished from the larger project by its in-depth investigation of the lesbian parent identity. Moreover, sensitized by theoretical frameworks on sense of community and inclusion, the focus of this study was on the multiple roles that a lesbian parent may play within youth sport (i.e., not only as a parent but also as a youth sport volunteer).

The primary method of data collection was semistructured interviews that provided in-depth accounts of personal experience (Braun, Clarke, & Weate, 2016). Interviews provided the opportunity to ask questions directly aligned with the research study’s goals with the aim to provide rich answers and insights (Saldaña, 2015). Semistructured interviews also elicited data that were “open-ended yet directed, shaped yet emergent, and paced yet unrestricted” (Charmaz, 2006, p. 28). Interviewers used a reflexive, dyadic interview style with follow-up comments and questions that helped the participants articulate their meanings and experiences (Charmaz, 2006). For two of the three families wherein both parents participated in the study, interviews were conducted separately to foster individual and diverse perspectives; however, the third family requested to be interviewed together.

Based on sensitizing concepts from the literature, topics of discussion in the interviews included (a) experiences of inclusion in relation to their lesbian identity and youth community-based sporting activities; (b) a high point and low point in their experiences with their children’s community sporting activities; (c) volunteer involvement with their children’s sport organizations; and (d) initiatives, programs, and/or adaptations that service providers should consider. Whenever geographically possible, interviews were conducted in person at the parents’ home (four participants), with the remainder conducted via Skype (five participants). All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim for data analysis, with conversations ranging in length from 25 min to 1 hr and 39 min, averaging 57 min per interview.

Data Analysis and Trustworthiness Strategies

Data analysis was guided by an active and inductive approach to facilitate understanding of participants’ experiences. An inductive approach aims to be an “open-ended investigation with minimal assumptions, leaving the researcher open to emergent leads and new ideas” (Saldaña, 2015, p. 23). Using analytic inductive methods, a researcher constructs knowledge in a cumulative process to build sense and meaning (Saldaña, 2015). Moreover, an interpretative approach to thematic analysis was used to search for patterns of meaning across the qualitative dataset, an approach commonly employed by sport scholars (Braun et al., 2016; Sparkes & Smith, 2014). Thematic analysis does not seek to quantify themes or build hierarchical structures; rather it highlights similarities and differences across the dataset (Sparkes & Smith, 2014). As explained by Braun et al. (2016), thematic analysis “can provide analyses of people’s experiences in relation to an issue, or the factors and processes that underlie and influence particular phenomena” (p. 193).

Specifically, the phases for thematic analysis, as outlined by Braun et al. (2016, pp. 196–202), while drawing on Braun and Clarke (2006) as well as Sparkes and Smith (2014, pp. 123–126), provided the guiding framework for this study. The phases included Phases 1–2: Familiarization and coding; Phases 3–5: Theme development, refinement, and naming; and Phase 6: Writing up. Although the themes are presented as a linear progression, it is a reflexive process that works back and forth through the various phases (Braun et al., 2016). During Phases 1–5 of thematic analysis, I worked with a research assistant who separately coded at the same time. Throughout this iterative process, we would meet regularly to gather and collate all of the relevant coded extracts, discuss whether we saw any coherent patterns, and reflect on the evolving construction of thematic categories. For example, some of the initial codes (Phase 2) included “Fears for Children,” “Fears of Coming Out,” “Confronting Moments of Heteronormativity,” and “Seeking Male Role Models.”

During Phase 3, we then refocused the analysis to the broader level of themes. Examples of our tentative themes included “Heightened Visibility and Perceived Stigma,” “Building Relationships,” and “Creating Inclusive Programming.” During Phase 4, we continued to work through a reflexive process wherein we sought to ascertain whether the tentative themes worked in relation to the entire dataset. Next, in Phase 5, we further refined and defined the “essence” of what each theme was about through a descriptive positioning of the “story” that each individual theme tells. At this point, once the themes were refined, I was able to enter the final phase of thematic analysis—Phase 6: Writing up—where themes became “embedded within an analytic tale that provides a clear interpretation of the data” (Sparkes & Smith, 2014, p. 126). Finally, guided by the aims of the study and as a reflection of my epistemological position, a feminist–constructivist orientation shaped the choices made throughout all phases of analysis (Braun et al., 2016).

Three primary strategies, as outlined by Cresswell (2014), were used to ensure the trustworthiness of the study. The first strategy was the use of debriefing with peers (p. 202). With this strategy, the research assistant and I met on several occasions to compare our thoughts and interpretations of the analytical process. Once we had reviewed the themes (Phase 4 of thematic analysis), one of the participants, who resided locally, was invited to review and ask critical questions about our interpretations. In accordance with Cresswell (2014), this strategy was used to enhance the accuracy of the research team’s interpretations of the data and to ensure that the analytical outcomes would resonate with the reader and, we would also argue, with the social group of inquiry. After this meeting and feedback, the research assistant and I returned to the iterative process of coding as we aimed to further refine and clarify the thematic categories.

Upon completion of defining and naming the themes (Phase 5 of thematic analysis), the second strategy of member checking (p. 201) was implemented. Specifically, a one-page summary of the thematic highlights was sent to all participants to determine whether they felt the themes reflected their experiences. At that time, no one expressed any concerns with the developed themes.

In writing the report (Phase 6 of thematic analysis), the third strategy, using a rich, thick description (Cresswell, 2014, p. 202), was used to allow the reader to understand the context of my interpretations of the data and the construction of the thematic highlights. Finally, the parents’ verbatim quotes were embedded within the themes to provide the reader with the opportunity to make their own judgments as to the trustworthiness of the research.

Findings

Three main thematic highlights that best reflected my interpretations of the parents’ experiences evolved from the narratives: (a) negotiating heightened visibility, sexual stigma, and parental judgment; (b) fostering social relationships through participation, volunteerism, and positive role models; and (c) creating shared understanding and building an inclusive sport culture. The thematic highlights are discussed in the following sections. As noted earlier, nine lesbian parents (representing six families) shared their insights in this study. To denote the three families wherein both partners participated, their perspectives were differentiated via “Parent A” and “Parent B.”

Negotiating Heightened Visibility, Sexual Stigma, and Parental Judgment

Aligned with the LGBTQ literature, many of the parents talked about the initial fears of coming out, unsure of how others might perceive them, and encountering sexual stigma. As several parents explained, it took time for them to “come out” as a lesbian. Indeed, for all but one participant in this study, the participants came out during their 20s. As one parent explained: “Our angst existed . . . two years we were in the closet before we told our families” (Parent A, Family 1, Canada).

Yet, as the first theme highlights it was clear that having children meant that they could no longer choose when, and with whom, to come out, and there was a sense of heightened visibility within their children’s sporting activities. For example, although it took several years to come out to family and friends about her relationship (i.e., she was in her late 20s when she came out), the visibility of her lesbian identity was immediately evident in the youth sport context:

When you have kids, you can’t [hide it]. I was there as the coach. [My wife] was there on the sidelines. The first day she helped me set up. My wife helped get all of the pylons out. So people sort of saw that. I think I might have introduced [her] as my wife. (Parent A, Family 1, Canada)

As the quote alluded to, volunteerism could intensify the parents’ heightened visibility in a way that they did not have to publicly negotiate during their young adulthood as an athlete.
The children, in some sense, outed their parents in the youth sport programs, whether or not they were ready to be outed. This sentiment was best reflected by a parent who commented:

Our daughter is out there and she’s chatting with people. When she was younger she used to lead with: “Oh these are my moms. I’m a rainbow kid.” I’m like, “Oh God! You don’t need to . . . .” But she kind of blows the doors off it . . . because she’s so happy and proud and outspoken. (Parent, Family 3, Canada)

Despite, at times, feeling outed by their children, the lesbian parents talked about having to negotiate this discomfort as they never wanted their children to, in turn, feel a sense of shame.

Other comments emphasized that children would also have to negotiate heteronormative assumptions within the youth sport culture. One parent shared a story of her son and his teammates: “He’s just recently dealing with things like, a couple of kids on his team have said—‘Where’s your dad?’ And he’s like, ‘I don’t have a dad, I have two moms’” (Parent, Family 4, United States).

Along with heteronormative assumptions, there were also initial uncertainties of how they would be perceived in the sporting community. As one parent explained: “I think fear isn’t quite the right word. I’m not like scared . . . just a little more anxious about how included our family would be” (Parent, Family 3, Canada). In turn, it was very clear in the parental talk that there was a sense of protecting their child from potential sexual stigma and sexual prejudice as a consequence of the parents’ sexual identity. Two parents best exemplified this:

Don’t hate my child because I’m gay. It’s not sort of all-pervasive. I do sort of think about it I suppose. Because you don’t know who’s homophobic. It does feel different as a parent. There is a sense of protection. (Parent, Family 2, Australia)

I think for me, it’s fear for the kids. Because we try so hard to protect our kids. I’m never 100% sure that we are going to be accepted. We want to protect the kids from that. That’s what it is for me. Like, I’m the most docile, I can get along with anybody in the world. But if you come near my kids . . . . (Parent A, Family 5, United States)

It was clear, too, that some of the parents sensed judgment from the youth sporting community for the choices they made in relation to their children’s sport participation. That is, not only did they experience felt stigma but they also perceived being judged by other parents in how they presented their lesbian identity within the sporting context. As one parent expressed it:

I feel like there’s eyes on what we do sign her up for. For hockey she’s got the rainbow tape on her stick and her helmet and stuff. So again, with silent, not actual judgement, but the silent: “Well yes, well the gay moms, of course their kid has rainbow tape. I feel some of that.” (Parent B, Family 1, Canada)

Moreover, one parent in particular emphasized the public gaze and the potential implications on her performance of gender: “How will that [my decisions] impact him? Recently I’ve been sort of questioning the whole transgendered side of things. And my biggest thing is not for myself, it’s for [my son]. It’s what that means for him” (Parent, Family 2, Australia).

A perceived sense of judgment and the critical gaze was also felt from the broader LGBTQ community for enacting the “right” type of parenting decisions. Some parents explained how they felt the pressure and duty to disrupt traditional gender norms related to their child’s sport participation. As Parent B (Family 1) continued in relation to her daughter playing hockey, “I think the pressure towards, we are doing our community proud by sort of blasting apart gender roles . . . our LGBTQ community. Like, okay, we’re doing them proud.”

Thus, the parents often experienced a sense of heightened visibility and felt stigma in relation to their children’s sporting community, yet there was no mention of enacted sexual stigma. Despite these experiences, a sense of conviction for their child’s positive experiences in community youth sport was clearly evident. As one parent stated:

When you’re growing up and coming into yourself you have these insecurities. The focus is me. But as a parent it is completely different. Because that’s my kid and I would do anything for my kids. And my kids deserve to be a part of the things that they want to be a part of . . . . We are ready to fight if we have to, to make sure our kids have what they want. I’m going to make sure that they can play. (Parent A, Family 5, United States)

Fostering Social Relationships Through Participation, Volunteerism, and Positive Role Models

As the second theme highlights, the opportunity for the parents to develop relationships with other families in the community through youth sport was clearly evident. Embedded within the parents’ talk were the multitude of ways in which relationships could be fostered. For some parents, they credited the program design and the physical space as being instrumental. In reference to her daughter’s early participation in soccer, one parent explained: “Well just being out on the field. Because you get to participate. Because they are only 3 [years old]. So you get to run around and you know do the drills with them . . . . So, it’s more accepting” (Parent B, Family 5, Canada). Other comments also supported the idea of the program design and culture as facilitating or hindering the development of relationships within the sporting community.

Soccer felt more fun. And people were chattier with us. Like, at gymnastics, no one really engaged with you. It’s more like, they’re just there to watch their kid. Whereas soccer felt more like everyone was engaged together. Maybe that’s partially because we participated. Whereas gymnastics, they just go off and the coaches take charge. But I feel soccer is definitely more inclusive and comfortable. (Parent B, Family 5, Canada)

Indeed, some of the parents revealed that supportive relationships had developed with other families off the field/ice as well. For example, there was a sense that supportive relationships helped with the physical labor and time commitment required for their child’s participation in community sport.

The parents are awesome. They are very diverse and open. They are just always willing to help. “Hey, does your kid need a ride? We’re always willing to carpool. Whatever you guys need. Let us know.” And we do the same for them. Never a problem with that. It’s just been a wonderful experience for myself, as a parent, and my child. (Parent, Family 4, United States)

Moreover, other comments emphasized how youth sport helped parents integrate into a community of families through volunteer opportunities. Consequently, the significance of youth sport and building relationships in the community was evident in not only the support that the lesbian parents received from other families but also the ways in which they could participate in volunteer roles within the youth sport organizations. Two parents who were coaches best exemplified this:

It’s helped us bond with people in the community. You know? I’ve got five text messages in the last couple of weeks asking if our girls are playing. And “Are you coaching? Because I want my kids to be on your team.” So I feel that I am making some kind of difference. (Parent A, Family 6, United States)

Those families are straight identified families that we have been navigating sports with. They’re totally cool with us. The same family—their daughter was in soccer with our daughter—the first year when I was the coach. So that’s where we first met them . . . . So they have been friends ever since. (Parent A, Family 1, Canada)

It was clear, too, that some of the parents valued community youth sport and the potential for their children to build positive relationships with other adult role models. Although they did not necessarily seek out these relationships, when a positive role model was found through the coaching role it was highly valued. As two parents reflected:

I definitely think it’s important for him to have some male role models. My father is around. But he’s not around as much as a dad would be. Or, you know, he has a grandfather, but he’s down in [name of state]. My brother lives in [name of city]. That’s far. It’s like six hours away. So, I just think it’s important that he has male role models to look up to and know how to act. And be a man. (Parent, Family 4, United States)

She had a male coach, which I also thought was good because, other than her granddad and uncles . . . nope! She had a male principal in grade two and grade three. But other than that, all her caregivers, like in any context have been women. So it was like “Yay! A dad is doing this”! (Parent A, Family 1, Canada)

As alluded to in these quotes, not only was another adult role model seen as a positive experience for their child but the complexities of gender were also interwoven into their responses. The importance of having male role models was evident for both sons and daughters. When asked why they felt positive male role models were significant, the same parents explained:

No one had really said anything to me. I just feel like, he has two moms. The whole household is girls, is female. So I feel like he needs, you know, boys to connect with. And coaches that can help him out if he needs help. (Parent, Family 4, United States)

Do you have your child exposed to different leadership styles and opportunities and also, again for her to form her way of navigating the world? Like if she was to only have positive interactions with adult women in her life, then how does she, navigate the world, the world doesn’t just exist with adult women. (Parent A, Family 1, Canada)

Moreover, as Parent A (Family 1, Canada) further emphasized, she also thought it was clearly important for her daughter to build relationships with empowering female role models. When asked why she was elated that the girls’ hockey program was intentionally designed to have all female coaches, she explained:

I think it has to do with empowering female environments. Because we also have a female child. If we had a male child, would we want to see that male child in empowering female-led environments? Yes. But then would we also be, particularly as two moms, wanting if we had a son to have more empowering male figures? We want our daughter to have that. So I really appreciated that there was going to be all women [coaches] on the ice. (Parent A, Family 1, Canada)

In summary, the significance of community youth sport was seen in its potential to build relationships within the community and create moments of shared understanding of diverse family structures, including families with parents who identified as lesbians. A key component of this was not only the support that was offered to the families in this study but also the reciprocal way in which they could actively be involved as a volunteer, which, in turn, contributed to a sense of community for them. Moreover, the positive relationships that could build between their child and other adult role models, and the complexities of gender expression and modeling within those relationships, were also significant.

Creating Shared Understanding and Building an Inclusive Youth Sport Culture

As the third theme emphasized, underlying much of the parents’ talk was a sense of creating an inclusive sporting culture. Salient to this theme were two dimensions: (a) the parents’ contributions to the organizational culture, and (b) the youth sport organizations’ responsibilities.

It was clear, in regards to having a lesbian identity, that creating a shared understanding with other, heterosexual-identified, parents was best seen through being present and active within the sporting community. That is, youth sport was seen as a way to enhance or create a space for shared understanding and relationship building among the families. In turn, their active participation was thought to reduce sexual stigma and prejudice of other parents in the community. This was best illustrated by one parent who said:

And we as a family do that just by showing up. So we don’t even really have to be talking to people to be educating about our alternative family. And by educating, I mean, we are not really any different in a lot of ways. So we show up. We don’t need to say anything. Just to be like—yeah—we are the same kind of family unit that everybody else is. (Parent B, Family 1, Canada)

Once again, the value of parents in volunteer roles was seen to foster opportunities for shared understanding of diverse family types within the broader community. As one parent, in particular, shared, related to her coaching motivations and experiences in her daughters’ soccer league:

I try to do it more with my actions. I guess I feel like sometimes you can’t change the core of who people are. I’m the coach as well. And I want them to see me as, you know, one of the best coaches out there. Like, “look at the way she helps them to grow. Look at all of those kids. She works well with them.” Because I feel like you have to, I feel like we can’t change but people can be changed by us. (Parent A, Family 6, United States)

Furthermore, a positive and respectful outlook was seen to be an important aspect of creating mutual respect. As one parent explained: “If you have a negative attitude and you get defensive . . . we’re setting a precedent for other families. So as long as we stay positive, I think that’s what you get back” (Parent B, Family 6, United States).

It was clear, too, that significant to this discussion was the responsibility of organizations to help foster a culture of inclusion. That is, the organizational values and awareness of diverse family types were seen as significant. For example, the issues of language and representation of LGBTQ families in promotional materials were key indicators of inclusion policies and practices. As one parent explained, simple modifications to heteronormative language on registration forms would signal to the parents how welcome their family would be in the sporting organization: “It’s all about language. It’s all about the first exposure. Little things make a huge difference. So in promotional materials, just say parents. Don’t say mom and dads. Or, you know, just use neutral language” (Parent, Family 3, Canada).

Other comments by parents emphasized the importance of photographs and representational statements on diversity to their experiences:

I think with very little education, people come around. They think—“oh, I didn’t realize we were being exclusive. Oops. My bad!” Like, that’s such an easy fix. I really believe that. So just ensuring all the paperwork. Even photos, promotional material. You know, if there’s one photo of a same sex couple with their kid. Or cheering. It doesn’t even have to be explicit. They could be in the background. Like, whatever. It’s a quiet statement of inclusion. (Parent, Family 3, Canada)

Because I feel like there are sort of, subtle, you don’t have to put a rainbow flag on everything. Though, when you see that . . . . And it’s funny to think because if I walk by a store in downtown [city] and noticed a little rainbow flag, I’m like, oh I smile to myself. Like, it does make a difference. It’s basically saying “Hey! You’re okay here!” (Parent A, Family 1, Canada)

The openness and receptiveness of organizational responses to diverse family structures was also salient. This sentiment was best reflected by a parent who commented on what she had seen as a shift in sporting culture over the past two decades. As she explained:

Certainly more inclusive. My experience with sailing, they were so, they obviously just needed a little tap on the shoulder for them to wake up to themselves. Versus, like years ago, certainly it would have been a bigger deal. And more pushback. And more like, well, they wouldn’t have been apologetic about it. (Parent, Family 3, Canada)

And yet, underlying much of the parents’ talk was the sense of inclusion, more broadly, for all families with diverse social identities. For example, even families with LGBTQ structures had diverse compositions that would frame their experiences. As one parent emphasized:

I find that families, who, like same sex families who’ve perhaps been blended or come together after the children have been born out of a heterosexual marriage. So the parents have coming out issues and experiences that are very different to families that have been created intentionally . . . . I just think it’s very complex. (Parent, Family 3, Canada)

Other comments by parents emphasized the importance of inclusion for all families: “There’s no normal family anymore. People raising their grandkids. You know, kids in foster care” (Parent B, Family 6, United States). This could be seen, once again, with the initial entry into the sport organization: “Intake forms and stuff. Just having that more inclusive. I mean it’s ‘mom’ and ‘dad’. And that’s not even an LGBTQ issue. It’s also single parents or the grandparents. Who knows who’s the guardian. So being more aware” (Parent A, Family 5, Canada).
Several parents spoke of strategies to foster a culture of inclusion for diverse family types. As noted earlier, being intentional in forms of visible representation was one way that this could be cultivated. For example: “Like it doesn’t need to be on the front page . . . [statements such as] . . . we welcome all families in our community. That’s enough” (Parent, Family 3, Canada). Moreover, as one parent explained, being intentional and mindful about governance representation on the club boards might also facilitate social change and inclusion for diverse family types:

If you run the [city] soccer league and you have lesbian moms who are on the board, then you’re probably going to get that part right. In the same way that if you have minorities on the board, you’re probably going to get that part right. If you have a single-parent family, you’re probably going to get that part right. But if you don’t have that you might have been isolated in your circle and not meaning to do any harm. But not knowing. No one has ever told you that you don’t know what to change. (Parent A, Family 1, Canada)

Thus, to build shared understanding and an inclusive youth sport culture, the parents believed that it was not only their accountability in how they interacted and presented themselves with other parents (as a parent and/or as a volunteer for the sport organization) but it was also the responsibility of the sport organization. Furthermore, underlying much of the parents’ talk was a sense of building inclusive community sport cultures for all diverse family structures, not just LGBTQ identities.

Discussion

The purpose of this study is to examine the complexities of lesbian parents’ experiences in community youth sport programs. Specifically, I seek to understand youth sport as a potential site for social change that facilitates a sense of inclusive community for diverse family structures. The themes that emerge from this study emphasize the importance of understanding the complexities of diverse family identities in community youth sport programs. This study reveals the significance of sexual stigma, heightened visibility, and judgment from their community (heterosexual as well as LGBTQ)—and how these factors alter the lesbian parents’ youth sport experiences. However, also embedded throughout the parents’ talk is the significance of community youth sport in fostering social relationships through participation, volunteerism, and positive role models, as well as the importance of building shared understanding and creating an inclusive community sport culture.

Theoretical Contributions

Although exploratory, this study supports the notion that sport may foster social networks and a sense of community that brings (diverse) community members together. For the families in this study, the significance of community youth sport is seen in its potential to build relationships within the community and create moments of shared understanding for diverse family structures. A key component is not only the support that is offered but also the reciprocal way in which the parents actively work toward building community for their family unit as well as for their child(ren)’s socialization. In this sense, the findings support the Sport and Sense of Community Theory (Warner & Dixon, 2011, 2013; Warner et al., 2012) in that factors such as Administrative Consideration (care, concern, and intentionality of administrators), Common Interest (social networking and friendships that result from individuals being brought together), Equity of Administrative Decisions (decisions that demonstrate all community members are treated equally), and Leadership Opportunities (informal and formal opportunities) are seen as important aspects of their sport organization “membership.” Similarly, aligned with Spaaij et al.’s (2014) inclusive communities criteria, the lesbian parents spoke of the importance of experiencing a sense of belonging and not only having the opportunity for their children to play sport but also to participate in the administration and organization of the sporting experience, irrespective of their identities.

In addition, however, the findings in this study may serve to broaden understanding of Sport and Sense of Community theory (Warner & Dixon, 2011, 2013) through diverse perspectives and experiences. Specifically, another important dimension for consideration is the importance of community youth sport as a potential site for social change and resistance where individuals and groups may challenge dominant norms such as heterosexism, construct more inclusive spaces, and transform cultural values and beliefs. The findings in this study align with other research that has examined diverse social identities and the potential for sport to become a vehicle for social change and integration (e.g., Jeanes, O’Connor, & Alfrey, 2015; Walseth, 2006).

In relation to TSR, the findings from this study support a key feature in understanding the disparities in the quality of services to different groups while focusing on their well-being (Dickson et al., 2016; Ostrom et al., 2010). Specifically, the findings from this study are consistent with other TSR research of diverse identities that have highlighted barriers to participation (e.g., Dickson et al., 2016). As this research illustrates, lesbian parents’ youth sport experiences may be altered due to sexual stigma (Herek et al., 2015) by other parents, coaches, or the youth sport organization. Although the lesbian parents did not experience enacted forms of sexual stigma, they did experience felt stigma and internalized sexual stigma (Herek et al., 2015) that altered their everyday youth sport experiences. Moreover, other research on parenting practices has reported that “by virtue of their sexual minority status, lesbian and gay parents are subject to increased moral judgment than that of their heterosexual counterparts” (Berkowitz & Ryan, 2011, p. 333). In this study, the lesbian parents’ experiences are shaped by a heightened sense of public censure and stigma related to their lesbian identity. Additional censure in connection to sport choices (e.g., gender expression and appropriate sport type), how they choose to represent their family identity (e.g., pride tape), and how they can express and construct familial relationships under the public gaze (e.g., public displays of affection) diminish their sporting experiences and may constrain their participation and level of involvement.

Yet, findings from this study also provide critique of TSR, in particular, the assertions that “service consumers are often vulnerable, lacking control and agency . . . [and] are often disadvantaged, especially in terms of expertise and knowledge needed to make decision about services” (Ostrom et al., 2010, p. 9). On the contrary, the lesbian parents’ knowledge through their lived experiences helps facilitate their agency to create potentially transformative actions through participation and volunteerism within youth sport programs. This may highlight the significance of youth sport programs that rely on the contributions and knowledge of volunteers for service delivery, rather than paid professionals.

The lesbian parents’ participation and volunteerism in community youth sport (within public spaces) also aligns with the theoretical framework of resistance that can be seen “as an act or series of actions that enhance freedom of choice and personal control” and “is closely tied to the idea of challenging hegemonic processes through the critique of dominant ideologies and of the political ideas, beliefs, and practices of the dominant hegemonic group or class” (Shaw, 2006, p. 534). By revealing the significance of resistant acts, both intentional (e.g., coaching) and unintentional (e.g., simply being a family unit in the sport program), this research serves to emphasize the potential for community youth sport to disrupt heterosexist values and behaviors that are both embedded in the institutions of society and internalized by individuals. As noted at the outset of this study, the most powerful instigator to reduce sexual prejudice for a heterosexual person is through having a friend or associate who identifies as LGBTQ (Herek & McLemore, 2013).

Yet, the process of resistance is complex and contradictory and will never be complete (Shaw, 2006). At the same time as the lesbian parents perform acts of resistance to sexual stigma in the youth sport community, they may also reinforce broader cultural ideals related to heterosexism. For example, some of the lesbian parents value youth sport and the potential for their children to build positive relationships with other adult role models (e.g., coaches)—and particularly men. This finding is significant considering the history of sport as a hegemonic institution of social exclusion (Fink, 2016). It may also speak to how important dominant parenting ideologies of “concerted cultivation” (see foundational work by Lareau, 2002) and “intensive parenting” (see foundational work by Hays, 1996) may be to their parenting practices as active managers of their children’s growth and development through youth sport programs (Trussell & Shaw, 2012). Instead of challenging hegemonic discourses, lesbian parents may perceive youth sport to be an important socialization site to prepare their children for adulthood within a patriarchal and capitalist society.

Managerial Implications

In terms of managerial implications, this study serves to disrupt ways in which sport scholars and practitioners think about the family unit, and in turn, the implications on program design and delivery. The practical applications highlighted in this study have the potential to enhance “managerially relevant knowledge” and to “lead to nonrepressive forms of organizing” (Frisby, 2005, p. 8). For example, issues of inclusive language and representation of diverse families in promotional materials are key indicators of how well the lesbian parents feel welcomed. As the parents reveal, the significance of equity statements are also important to feelings of inclusion and belonging to community sport organizations. Organizational-level activities such as education and training as well as inclusive policies, practices, and norms (e.g., using inclusive language) are important to facilitate positive social change (Cunningham, 2015b). Through better understanding the complexities of diverse family structures within youth sport programs, organizations may better meet their needs by adapting administrative materials and program designs.

Finally, the significance of the lesbian parents expressing the importance of inclusion for all family structures cannot be understated. Perhaps this highlights their diverse identities that sensitized them to the ways in which sport academics and practitioners need to think of program design more broadly. Indeed, research on gay athletes highlights how feelings of inclusion are not isolated to issues of sexuality; inclusion is also considered of “players who might otherwise face discrimination on the basis of other axes of difference related to gender identity, age, ethnicity, (dis)ability and social class” (Watson et al., 2013, p. 1235). Furthermore, although the standard North American family (a legally married heterosexual couple with children) is an ideology rooted in an era of industrialization and largely associated with idealized middle-class values, it is not a lived reality for many families (Mestdag & Vandeweyer, 2005). Family scholars have long called for recognition of cultural variations in family types that is more representative of the diverse family forms that exist (Ambert, 2006). An inclusive conceptualization of family by youth sport organizations should consider diverse family forms such as lone parents, separated and divorced families, remarried and stepfamilies, cohabiting families, and LGBTQ families during program design and decision-making processes.

Conclusion

As Warner et al. (2015) point out, “Despite the potential influence on individuals, families, and communities, surprisingly little attention has been given to the design and management of community youth sport programs” (p. 46). Along with illustrating the experiences of lesbian parents in community youth sport, the findings in this study explore how oppressive behaviors, values, and practices such as sexual stigma (Herek et al., 2015) may be negotiated through youth sport to help foster inclusive communities. This study builds on Warner and Dixon’s (2011, 2013) Sport and Sense of Community theory and emphasizes the importance of understanding diverse social identities within sport settings. It contributes to TSR by focusing on groups of people such as families and communities, rather than on the individual experience (Anderson et al., 2013). This study also provides an important narrative related to agency and transformative action through participation and volunteerism in youth sport. In doing so, the study illuminates the well-being of lesbian parents, and, by extension, their families’ well-being.

By revealing the experiences of lesbian-parented families in community youth sport, this research may serve to emphasize the potential for community youth sport to influence community relationships, and, in turn, how people understand the world around them through their day-to-day experiences. As Young (1990) reminds us, “Social groups reflect ways that people identify themselves and others, which lead them to associate with some people more than others, and to treat others as different” (p. 9). Yet, despite the social exclusion that may occur (Spaaij et al., 2014), sport organizations have the potential to create more just and socially responsible cultures that embed principles of diversity and inclusion (Cunningham, 2015b). It is at the microlevel in contexts such as community youth sport programs (Spaaij et al., 2019) that diverse family structures may come together and create shared understanding to disrupt dominant and oppressive ideologies such as heterosexism. In this sense, families can become agents of social change and justice through their everyday sport experiences (Trussell, 2018). It is through transformative and intentional, as well as unintentional, acts by families and youth sport organizations that community life may be enhanced.

Notes
1.

 Throughout this article, I intentionally use the term “lesbian parent” rather than “lesbian mother” due to the social construction and fluidity of gender expression.

2.

 As Herek et al. (2015) clarify, “structural sexual stigma, or heterosexism, is an ideology embodied in institutional practices that work to the disadvantage of sexual minority groups. As a structural phenomenon, heterosexism is relatively autonomous from the prejudice of individual members of society” (p. 19). Within this concept, LGBTQ people “generally remain invisible and unacknowledged by society’s institutions” and “when sexual minorities become visible, they are problematized” (p. 19).

Acknowledgment

With gratitude to Laura Kovac and Jen Apgar for their invaluable contributions and insights to this study.

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  • Satore, M., & Cunningham, G. (2009). Gender, sexual prejudice and sport participation: Implications for sexual minorities. Sex Roles, 60(1–2), 100113. doi:10.1007/s11199-008-9502-7

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Satore, M., & Cunningham, G. (2010). The lesbian label as a component of women’s stigmatization in sport organizations: An exploration of two health and kinesiology departments. Journal of Sport Management, 24(5), 481501.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaw, S. (2019). The chaos of inclusion? Examining anti-homophobia policy development in New Zealand sport. Sport Management Review, 22(2), 247262. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2018.04.001

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaw, S., & Frisby, W. (2006). Can gender equity be more equitable? Promoting an alternative frame for sport management research, education, and practice. Journal of Sport Management, 20(4), 483509. doi:10.1123/jsm.20.4.483

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaw, S., & Hoeber, L. (2003). “A strong man is direct and a direct woman is a bitch”: Gendered discourses and their influence on employment roles in sport organizations. Journal of Sport Management, 17, 347375.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaw, S., & Hoeber, L. (2016). Unclipping our wings: Ways forward in qualitative research in sport management. Sport Management Review, 19(3), 255265. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2016.03.001

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaw, S.M. (2006). Resistance. In C. Rojek, S. Shaw, & A.J. Veal (Eds.), A handbook of leisure studies (pp. 533545). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Spaaij, R., Knoppers, A., & Jeanes, R. (2019). “We want more diversity but . . .”: Resisting diversity in recreational sports clubs. Sport Management Review. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2019.05.007

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Spaaij, R., Magee, J., & Jeanes, R. (2014). Sport and social exclusion in global society. New York, NY: Routledge.

  • Sparkes, A.C., & Smith, B. (2014). Qualitative research methods in sport, exercise and health: From process to product. New York, NY: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tonts, M. (2005). Competitive sport and social capital in rural Australia. Journal of Rural Studies, 21(2), 137149. doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2005.03.001

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trussell, D.E. (2018). Families as agents of social change and justice in communities through leisure and sport experiences. Annals of Leisure Research, 21(1), 18. doi:10.1080/11745398.2017.1407661

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trussell, D.E., Kovac, L., & Apgar, J. (2018). LGBTQ parents’ experiences of community youth sport: Change your forms, change your (hetero) norms. Sport Management Review, 21(1), 5162. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2017.03.003

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trussell, D.E., & Shaw, S.M. (2012). Organized youth sport and parenting in public and private spaces. Leisure Sciences, 34(5), 377394. doi:10.1080/01490400.2012.714699

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Walker, N.A., & Melton, E.N. (2015). The tipping point: The intersection of race, gender, and sexual orientation in intercollegiate sports. Journal of Sport Management, 29(3), 257271. doi:10.1123/jsm.2013-0079

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Walker, N.A., & Sartore-Baldwin, M.L. (2013). Hegemonic masculinity and the institutionalized bias toward women in men’s collegiate basketball: What do men think? Journal of Sport Management, 27(4), 303315. doi:10.1123/jsm.27.4.303

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Walseth, K. (2006). Sport and belonging. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 41(3–4), 447464. doi:10.1177/1012690207079510

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, S., & Dixon, M.A. (2011). Understanding sense of community from an athlete’s perspective. Journal of Sport Management, 25(3), 258272.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, S., & Dixon, M.A. (2013). Sport and community on campus: Constructing a sport experience that matters. Journal of College Student Development, 54(3), 283298. doi:10.1353/csd.2013.0044

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, S., Dixon, M.A., & Chalip, L. (2012). The impact of formal versus informal sport: Mapping the differences in sense of community. Journal of Community Psychology, 40(8), 9831003. doi:10.1002/jcop.21506

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, S., Dixon, M.A., & Leierer, S.J. (2015). Using youth sport to enhance parents’ sense of community. Journal of Applied Sport Management, 7(1), 4563.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, S., Kerwin, S., & Walker, M. (2013). Examining sense of community in sport: Developing the multidimensional “SCs” scale. Journal of Sport Management, 27(5), 349362. doi:10.1123/jsm.27.5.349

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Watson, R., Tucker, L., & Drury, S. (2013). Can we make a difference? Examining the transformative potential of sport and active recreation. Sport in Society, 16(10), 12331247. doi:10.1080/17430437.2013.821258

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Young, M. (1990). Justice and the politics of difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

Trussell (dtrussell@brocku.ca) is with the Department of Sport Management, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

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  • Petty, L., & Trussell, D.E. (2018). Experiences of identity development and sexual stigma for lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people in sport: “Just survive until you can be who you are.” Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 10(2), 176189. doi:10.1080/2159676X.2017.1393003

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  • Saldaña, J. (2015). Thinking qualitatively: Methods of mind. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Sarason, S.B. (1974). The psychological sense of community: Prospects for a community psychology. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • Satore, M., & Cunningham, G. (2009). Gender, sexual prejudice and sport participation: Implications for sexual minorities. Sex Roles, 60(1–2), 100113. doi:10.1007/s11199-008-9502-7

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Satore, M., & Cunningham, G. (2010). The lesbian label as a component of women’s stigmatization in sport organizations: An exploration of two health and kinesiology departments. Journal of Sport Management, 24(5), 481501.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaw, S. (2019). The chaos of inclusion? Examining anti-homophobia policy development in New Zealand sport. Sport Management Review, 22(2), 247262. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2018.04.001

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaw, S., & Frisby, W. (2006). Can gender equity be more equitable? Promoting an alternative frame for sport management research, education, and practice. Journal of Sport Management, 20(4), 483509. doi:10.1123/jsm.20.4.483

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaw, S., & Hoeber, L. (2003). “A strong man is direct and a direct woman is a bitch”: Gendered discourses and their influence on employment roles in sport organizations. Journal of Sport Management, 17, 347375.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaw, S., & Hoeber, L. (2016). Unclipping our wings: Ways forward in qualitative research in sport management. Sport Management Review, 19(3), 255265. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2016.03.001

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaw, S.M. (2006). Resistance. In C. Rojek, S. Shaw, & A.J. Veal (Eds.), A handbook of leisure studies (pp. 533545). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Spaaij, R., Knoppers, A., & Jeanes, R. (2019). “We want more diversity but . . .”: Resisting diversity in recreational sports clubs. Sport Management Review. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2019.05.007

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Spaaij, R., Magee, J., & Jeanes, R. (2014). Sport and social exclusion in global society. New York, NY: Routledge.

  • Sparkes, A.C., & Smith, B. (2014). Qualitative research methods in sport, exercise and health: From process to product. New York, NY: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tonts, M. (2005). Competitive sport and social capital in rural Australia. Journal of Rural Studies, 21(2), 137149. doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2005.03.001

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trussell, D.E. (2018). Families as agents of social change and justice in communities through leisure and sport experiences. Annals of Leisure Research, 21(1), 18. doi:10.1080/11745398.2017.1407661

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trussell, D.E., Kovac, L., & Apgar, J. (2018). LGBTQ parents’ experiences of community youth sport: Change your forms, change your (hetero) norms. Sport Management Review, 21(1), 5162. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2017.03.003

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trussell, D.E., & Shaw, S.M. (2012). Organized youth sport and parenting in public and private spaces. Leisure Sciences, 34(5), 377394. doi:10.1080/01490400.2012.714699

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Walker, N.A., & Melton, E.N. (2015). The tipping point: The intersection of race, gender, and sexual orientation in intercollegiate sports. Journal of Sport Management, 29(3), 257271. doi:10.1123/jsm.2013-0079

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Walker, N.A., & Sartore-Baldwin, M.L. (2013). Hegemonic masculinity and the institutionalized bias toward women in men’s collegiate basketball: What do men think? Journal of Sport Management, 27(4), 303315. doi:10.1123/jsm.27.4.303

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Walseth, K. (2006). Sport and belonging. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 41(3–4), 447464. doi:10.1177/1012690207079510

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, S., & Dixon, M.A. (2011). Understanding sense of community from an athlete’s perspective. Journal of Sport Management, 25(3), 258272.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, S., & Dixon, M.A. (2013). Sport and community on campus: Constructing a sport experience that matters. Journal of College Student Development, 54(3), 283298. doi:10.1353/csd.2013.0044

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, S., Dixon, M.A., & Chalip, L. (2012). The impact of formal versus informal sport: Mapping the differences in sense of community. Journal of Community Psychology, 40(8), 9831003. doi:10.1002/jcop.21506

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, S., Dixon, M.A., & Leierer, S.J. (2015). Using youth sport to enhance parents’ sense of community. Journal of Applied Sport Management, 7(1), 4563.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, S., Kerwin, S., & Walker, M. (2013). Examining sense of community in sport: Developing the multidimensional “SCs” scale. Journal of Sport Management, 27(5), 349362. doi:10.1123/jsm.27.5.349

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Watson, R., Tucker, L., & Drury, S. (2013). Can we make a difference? Examining the transformative potential of sport and active recreation. Sport in Society, 16(10), 12331247. doi:10.1080/17430437.2013.821258

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Young, M. (1990). Justice and the politics of difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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