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Each Wednesday you will turn in a reflection memo, with your personal reactions to the course material. You should use this exercise as an oppo

Each Wednesday you will turn in a reflection memo, with your personal reactions to the course material. You should use this exercise as an oppo

Each Wednesday you will turn in a reflection memo, with your personal reactions to the course material. You should use this exercise as an opportunity to integrate course material with your own life and experiences, and for you to give me feedback on how the course is going for you. The content of the memos should focus on both the course material and your experiences but are otherwise open to you. For example, you might discuss your reaction to class discussions, films, lectures, or readings, report on an event in your life or conversations you’ve had with friends and family about course material. These are not reading or lecture summaries. Your reflection memos should be no less than a paragraph but no more than a page.

Queering Environmental Justice Through an Intersectional Lens Greta Gaard, PhD


Greta Gaard is with the English and Women/Gender/Sexuality Studies Departments, University of Wisconsin, River Falls.

See also Levy and Hern�andez, p. 48, and Goldsmith and Bell, p. 79.

Bell and Goldsmith’s research(p. 79) establishes a new intersec- tional field of queer environmental jus-

tice through the feminist practice of

“asking different questions” and investi-

gating queer populations and their

health outcomes as exacerbated by

environmental exposures, along with

“social institutions and entrenched dis-

crimination that affect many aspects of

LGBTQ1 [lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-

gender, queer or questioning, and

other] lives, such as education, health

care, and access to resources during

an environmental disaster” (p. 86). They

define environmental exposures in

terms of “where LGBTQ1 people live,”

a decision influenced not only by race,

class, income, and availability of federal

loan programs, but also by local,

regional, state, and national contexts of

institutionalized and interpersonal

homophobia and discrimination.

During the period of data collection

for their article, domestic partnership

registries seemed to be the primary

data source for determining residence

locations for same-sex and queer

domestic partners. Future research

building on this article can be updated

to show the influence of the Supreme

Court’s decision to legalize same-sex

marriage1 and the potential shifts in

residence for same-sex spouses and

their families. This legal protection may

promote greater accessibility to healthy

housing environments, a view that the

2020 Census data—for the first time in

US history—can be used to assess.

Queering environmental justice can

be further developed through the inter-

sectional feminist lenses of gender,

age, ability, and species.2

Bell and Goldsmith identify intersec-

tions between physical and mental

health, noting the ways that “institutional

and social-based discrimination and

stigma” manifest psychologically,

prompting LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisex-

ual, transgender, queer or questioning,

and intersex) persons to conceal iden-

tity, internalize oppression, and live in

fear of identity-based rejection, with

transgender persons facing even more

mental health burdens (40%) than cis-

gendered LGB persons. At the same

time, even cisgendered lesbian and

bisexual queer women experience the

intersections of environmental

sexism and ageism in addition to envi-

ronmental homophobia, producing

intensified relations of dominance

enforced via sexual assault, harassment,

bullying, exploitation, and hate crimes.3

Bringing forward intersections with age,

gender, and sexuality makes visible the

high percentage of sex work performed

by outcast and runaway queer, trans,

and cisgendered youth.4 Because of the

nexus of sexism, heterosexism, ageism,

and racism, the environments of queer

and trans sex workers are inherently

unjust and unhealthy—both physically

and mentally—carrying increased risks

of HIV transmission, alcoholism, drug

use, and environmental toxins.5

Intersections of gender, sexuality,

and environments also play a role in

queer women’s higher rates of obesity6

and their tendencies to avoid breast

and pelvic exams7 at rates comparable

to those of transmen, who also tend to

avoid screenings for cervical cancers.8

Both physical and sexual health exams

carry the risk of homophobic and trans-

phobic harassment or ignorance in

medical work environments. It remains

a well-known tragedy that transgender

author, labor activist, and human rights

activist Leslie Feinberg died in 2014

from the untreated outcomes of Lyme

disease and other tick-borne infections.

Queer disability author Piepzna-

Samarasinha9 argues that genuine

social and environmental justice must

include age and disability justice. Envi-

ronmental disasters such as Hurricane

Katrina support this claim; although

age and disability often co-occur,

impairments of hearing, vision, cogni-

tion, speech, and mobility can affect

people of all ages, making it difficult for

them to seek protection in climate

crises. For elderly people, these impair-

ments are more likely and more chal-

lenging, and for queer and disabled

people, seeking appropriate aid in envi-

ronmental disasters can be triply chal-

lenging. Young people are at greater

risk; given the disproportionate racial

impact of asthma among urban and

lower-income children of color, the abil-

ity of children to breathe while fleeing

Editorial Gaard 57


Ja n u a ry

2 0 2 2 , V o l 1 1 2 , N o . 1

or surviving climate disasters is an envi-

ronmental justice issue, compounded

by homophobia if their parents, siblings,

or extended family are queer or trans.

In addition, the intersections of envi-

ronmental justice, queer justice, and

species justice are entangled in the

lives of multispecies families. Species-

ism obscures the ways that human lives

are lived in relationship with other spe-

cies as well as environments; nearly

half of those who stayed behind during

Katrina refused rescue helicopters and

boats that offered safety only to

humans, and stayed because of their

companion animals. During the

COVID-19 pandemic, queer families

maintained well-being and mental

health through adoption and relation-

ships with companion animals.10 For

older LGBTQ1 adults, both single and

partnered, companion animals are

“lifesaving in every way,” from greater

mental and physical health to enriched

social networks.11 In sum, leading envi-

ronmental justice scholars have recog-

nized that their analytical frameworks

will miss important data unless they

include multispecies lives.12

CORRESPONDENCE Correspondence should be sent to Greta Gaard, Department of English, 256 KFA, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 410 S. Third St, River Falls, WI 54022 (e-mail: [email protected]). Reprints can be ordered at by clicking the “Reprints” link.

PUBLICATION INFORMATION Full Citation: Gaard G. Queering environmental justice through an intersectional lens. Am J Public Health. 2022;112(1):57–58.

Acceptance Date: July 28, 2021.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Thanks to Katie Poe, associate production editor for AJPH, for her patient guidance in helping to format this response in accordance with AJPH guidelines.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.


1. Obergefell v Hodges, 576 US 644 (2015).

2. Gaard GC. Feminism and environmental justice. In: Holifield R, Chakraborty J, Walker G, eds. The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice. New York, NY: Routledge; 2018:74–88.

3. McKay T, Misra S, Lindquist C. Violence and LGBTQ1 Communities: What Do We Know, and What Do We Need to Know? Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International; 2017.

4. Wilson EC, Garofalo R, Harris RD, et al. Transgen- der female youth and sex work: HIV risk and a comparison of life factors related to engagement in sex work. AIDS Behav. 2009;13(5):902–913.

5. Glick JL, Lim S, Beckham SW, Tomko C, Park JN, Sherman SG. Structural vulnerabilities and HIV risk among sexual minority female sex workers (SM-FSW) by identity and behavior in Baltimore, MD. Harm Reduct J. 2020;17(1):43. 10.1186/s12954-020-00383-2

6. Boehmer U, Bowen DJ, Bauer GR. Overweight and obesity in sexual-minority women: evidence from population-based data. Am J Public Health. 2007;97(6):1134–1140. AJPH.2006.088419

7. Cochran SD, Mays VM, Bowen DJ, et al. Cancer- related risk indicators and preventive screening behaviors among lesbians and bisexual women. Am J Public Health. 2001;91(4):591–597. https://

8. Bernstein IM. “There Is No Manly Speculum”: The Gender and Power Dynamics of Cervical Cancer Screening for Transmasculine Patients [doctoral dissertation]. Boston, MA: Harvard Medical School; 2017.

9. Piepzna-Samarasinha LL. Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice. Chico, CA: AK Press; 2018.

10. Matijczak A, McDonald SE, Tomlinson CA, Murphy JL, O’Connor K. The moderating effect of comfort from companion animals and social support on the relationship between microaggressions and mental health in LGBTQ1 emerging adults. Behav Sci (Basel) 2020;11(1):1. 3390/bs11010001

11. Muraco A, Putney J, Shiu C, Fredriksen-Goldsen K. Lifesaving in every way: the role of companion animals in the lives of older lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults age 50 and over. Res Aging. 2018;40(9):859–882. 1177/0164027517752149

12. Pellow DN. Total Liberation: The Power and Prom- ise of Animal Rights and the Radical Earth Move- ment. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press; 2014. 9780816687763.001.0001


58 Editorial Gaard


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Leisure Sciences An Interdisciplinary Journal

ISSN: (Print) (Online) Journal homepage:

Environmental Justice, Gentrification, and Leisure: A Systematic Review and Opportunities for the Future

Lauren E. Mullenbach & Birgitta L. Baker

To cite this article: Lauren E. Mullenbach & Birgitta L. Baker (2020) Environmental Justice, Gentrification, and Leisure: A Systematic Review and Opportunities for the Future, Leisure Sciences, 42:5-6, 430-447, DOI: 10.1080/01490400.2018.1458261

To link to this article:

Published online: 14 May 2018.

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Citing articles: 9 View citing articles./..

Environmental Justice, Gentrification, and Leisure: A Systematic Review and Opportunities for the Future

Lauren E. Mullenbach and Birgitta L. Baker

Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

ARTICLE HISTORY Received  July  Accepted  March 

KEYWORDS gentrification; green space; leisure; parks; systematic review

ABSTRACT The concept of gentrification, which has recently been expanded beyond residential displacement to address issues of equitable access to public spaces, is deemed an environmental justice issue. Environmen- tal gentrification presents a new threat to economically vulnerable areas looking to add parks, recreation, or green space to their neighborhoods because gentrification may attract newcomers who displace existing residents from public spaces as well as from housing. Consequently, park, recreation, and leisure scholars should study this phenomenon. A systematic review was conducted to assess current knowledge regard- ing relationships among gentrification and park, recreation, and leisure spaces. A search of three databases uncovered 27 articles. Little leisure scholarship was found, representing an opportunity for leisure scholars to promote environmental justice. Six themes derived from the articles described how policy can negatively impact residents, how strategies can prevent gentrification, and how research methods to study gentrifi- cation can impact how results are interpreted.


Access to quality green spaces in urban areas has been labeled an environmental and social justice issue (Dahmann, Wolch, Joassart-Marcelli, Reynolds, & Jerrett, 2010; Floyd & Johnson, 2002; Heynen, Perkins, & Roy, 2006). Evidence shows some minority and/or low- income groups have disproportionately low access to public city parks (Heynen et al., 2006; Jennings, Johnson Gaither, & Gragg, 2012), and a lack of park access has negative health con- sequences (Gordon-Larsen, Nelson, Page, & Popkin, 2006). Additionally, parks adjacent to low-income and minority neighborhoods tend to be smaller and of lower quality (Johnson- Gaither, 2011; Rigolon, 2016). Thus, exclusion from parks and green spaces and the disparity in quality of those spaces deny vulnerable groups access to health amenities, further perpet- uating injustices. In addition, attempts to remedy this inequitable access may create further injustice. When green spaces are constructed or renovated, the neighborhood may become more attractive and costly to live in, and wealthier groups may replace existing residents, thereby gentrifying the neighborhood (Wolch, Byrne, & Newell, 2014).

CONTACT Lauren E. Mullenbach lem Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, The Pennsylvania State University,  Ford Building, University Park, PA .

©  Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

LEISURE SCIENCES 2020, VOL. 42, NO. 5-6, 430–447

What is gentrification?

Gentrification is a process of change and displacement of a lower wealth population by a higher wealth population (Atkinson, 2002). Displacement most often refers to the process by which residents are forced or choose to move from their homes to a different neighborhood. A different socioeconomic class often takes the place of those former residents. However, the displacement experienced may be physical or psychological. Residents may be physically dis- placed by gentrification (if they move), or they may feel as if they were displaced from the social and cultural environment of the neighborhood. Delaney (2004) conceptualized physi- cal displacement as material displacement and psychological displacement as discursive dis- placement. Gentrification is a multifaceted phenomenon that encompasses economic, social, and physical changes (Marcuse, 2016). Marcuse refers to these changes as “upgradings,” but he is careful to note that upgradings do not always lead to displacement of existing residents, although they often do. Whether these upgradings and potential related gentrification are evaluated as positive or negative depends on the worldviews and experiences of those evalu- ating (Slater, 2009).

The phenomenon of gentrification has been studied for decades by scholars from diverse disciplines, including sociology, economics, urban planning, and geography, and gentrifica- tion thought has evolved over time. Current paradigms assert that gentrification does not just affect the housing supply and markets, but it also influences an array of different types of places as well as social, economic, and political processes. While a large part of gentrification research remains focused on housing indicators, including property values and residential shifts, some research reflects this widened scope (Pearsall, 2010; Smith, 1987).

Economic changes that often drive or reflect gentrification include increases in property values, rent, and wealth/income of neighborhood residents (Freeman, 2006). Neighborhood wealth may increase when existing residents access higher paying jobs, alternate streams of income, or when the value of property they own increases; more often however, it occurs as lower income residents are replaced by higher income residents (Marcuse, 2016).

Physical upgrading may include renovation or replacement of existing buildings (housing stock and commercial buildings), public infrastructure improvements, and increases in the amount and quality of green and leisure spaces. Indicators of gentrification are thus embedded in renewed public space, businesses, and even grocery stores (Anguelovski, 2016).

Social and cultural changes in a neighborhood that is “upgrading” may be driven by and desired by existing residents. Alternatively, they may displace the norms and mores of existing residents by those of newcomers—a process often characterized by conflict, psychological displacement, or marginalization of existing residents (Shaw & Sullivan, 2011). As described in the articles included in this review, the social and cultural changes are difficult for long-time residents to grapple with (Anguelovski, 2016; Bélanger, 2012). What was once a place to gather and socialize may become an upscale grocery store or coffee shop filled with different people with different values. What was once a favorite spot in the park may have been “taken over” by newcomers who don’t share norms or activities. Justice issues resulting from psychological displacement include the losses of social capital from the breakup of social networks and of voice in local politics (Atkinson, 2002).

Depending on who is judging, these changes can be viewed positively or negatively. The effects of upgradings on a city budget are positive. Increased property taxes, higher income taxes, and sales tax from increased resident spending and additional tourism fill city and state coffers (Slater, 2009). Crime decreases associated with gentrification reduce police and other


related costs (Branas et al., 2016). Given this, it is not surprising that cities and states imple- ment pro-gentrification policies (Lees, 2003a; Smith, 2002). These benefits, however, should be weighed against the costs (social and financial) of the displacement of existing residents (Marcuse, 2016; Slater, 2009). Economically vulnerable residents displaced during gentrifica- tion are often from historically disadvantaged groups, making displacement and exclusion of those groups especially concerning (Marcuse, 2016). In addition to perpetuating inequities, the financial costs of moving, increased health costs incurred through moving to unhealthier areas, and the social costs of discrimination, exclusion, and the loss of social networks are injustices imposed upon vulnerable groups. The breaking up of social networks is an often uncalculated cost of displacement but one which may affect displaced residents’ ability to acclimate to a new neighborhood (Atkinson, 2003).

Environmental gentrification

When cities construct or renovate new parks, trails, and other green spaces, particularly in areas that were previously deficient in these amenities, it can cause or perpetuate environ- mental gentrification. Environmental gentrification is a function of physical upgrading and occurs when an environmental amenity, such as a green space, park, or trail, is created or renovated to an extent that it spurs or accelerates gentrification, often facilitated by politi- cal processes (Checker, 2011). Currently, cities are implementing such changes in their built environment, which can exacerbate environmental injustice. Environmental injustice is his- torically linked to disproportionate exposure of lower-income and racial-minority neighbor- hoods to environmental hazards (Cutter, 1995). Because many such neighborhoods possess relatively lower levels of political clout, they are less equipped to lobby for change and are vul- nerable to other environmental injustices, such as environmental gentrification. The primary injustice of environmental gentrification is the reduced access to an environmental amenity, such as a park, due to displacement. Displaced residents are denied the physical, mental, and social health benefits of parks and green space (Mowen & Rung, 2016).

Also called “green gentrification” or “ecological gentrification,” this process has garnered recent attention in the larger urban development literature (Haase et al., 2017; Wolch et al., 2014). An example of this process is when a brownfield, that is, a property on which the pres- ence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant may compli- cate its expansion, redevelopment, or reuse, is cleaned up and replaced with a park, making the neighborhood more attractive, possibly increasing real estate values, and bringing wealth- ier residents to the area (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.). Rather than the new amenity benefiting residents, the new or renovated public spaces can drive up property taxes and rents, displacing the residents they were meant to serve.

The consequences of environmental gentrification are seldom documented outside of a few well-cited case studies (e.g., Checker, 2011; Curran & Hamilton, 2012). The best approaches for addressing inequities in access to green space without spurring gentrification are still unclear. While a few key instances of physical upgrading of environmental amenities have not led to gentrification (Curran & Hamilton, 2012), more often upgradings spur gentrification. Therefore, more research is needed to determine factors differentiating neighborhoods and situations in which greening is associated with gentrification and those which are not associ- ated with environmental gentrification (Gould & Lewis, 2016). Cities are increasingly invest- ing in their public spaces, especially parks and open space, and it remains unclear whether conventional urban planning considers the consequences of environmental gentrification.


The transformations that occur during environmental gentrification are occasionally the result of city- or state-wide policies to restore brownfields or enhance sustainable develop- ment. These projects are typically undertaken with good intentions but can result in unfore- seen negative consequences for residents (Checker, 2011). Some cities, under the guise of promoting sustainability, recruit businesses with a sustainability focus to increase revenue and achieve their economic goals. Yet these businesses attract a specific clientele and may be cost-prohibitive to working class residents (Anguelovski, 2016). Pearsall (2010) illustrated this practice in his study of New York’s brownfield redevelopment program, which provided important groundwork for research on environmental gentrification. Pearsall assessed eco- nomic vulnerability of residents by observing changes in resident profile over time and found those most vulnerable to displacement or disadvantage

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