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Deadline looms for LGBT community-needs survey
by Matt Simonette

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Members of the Chicago region's LGBT community have until the end of the month to take part in an extensive survey measuring the health and socio-economic needs and concerns.

Chicago-based consultancy the Morten Group is conducting the survey on behalf of the LGBT Community Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Chicago Community Trust. The survey is intended as a measure of current strengths, assets, needs, and challenges of the community and will inform strategic funding decisions to support nonprofit organizations that serve the community, principal stakeholders say.

So far, just over 700 respondents have taken the online survey. Organizers would like to get that number to 1,000 or more by the time of the Jan. 31 deadline, said Keisha Farmer-Smith, a Morten Group senior consultant.

The assessment follows-up an extensive survey similarly conducted in 2011; stakeholders hope to compile information about the community's concerns about employment, financial resources, health care access and myriad other issues, she added, further noting that, "There are several questions that ask people about the resources they utilize as members of the LGBTQ community, such as, what is the role of social media? Where are areas you feel safe and supported? Where do you go when you need resources?"

Farmer-Smith noted that results can hopefully help community organizations not just determine concerns, but best practices utilized by various organizations. Survey data, once aggregated, will be published and available for use by agencies and advocates. Stakeholders also have passed out data cards at community events for community members without resources, time or inclination to access the online survey, and have held focus-groups in partnership with various community organizations.

"So far, there are about 200 data cards completed, and we're trying really hard to get about 500 people filling them out," she said, noting that the cards and focus group remarks are analyzed separately from the online survey results. "The trends emerging from the cards are compared to the trends that emerge from the survey and the focus groups. When we do the reporting, we share the data cards trends separately, then look for the commonality and differences."

"With this update to the LGBTQ Needs Assessment, we hope to deepen engagement to communities who are under-resourced, under-represented and under-appreciated," said Morten Group President Mary Morten. "Since the release of the needs assessment report in 2012, we have had a number of significant events, legislative victories and some setbacks.

"Whether it is marriage equality or the November 2016 election, we know that bias and discrimination against LGBTQ people, specifically TGNC folks, senior community members, folks with disabilities and people of color, is increasing. We must have meaningful participation in the data collection activities so we can make sure that the reality of people's lives is being reflected in the grant-making by the community fund. We all have to be counted."

Farmer Smith added, "It's not just the Chicago Community Trust that looks at this dat—other entities do as well. We're hoping this will make people say, 'We need to make some inroads for the LGBTQ community and provide support."

Those who identify as people of color, TGNC ( trans and gender non-conforming ), bisexual, people with disabilities, older adults, and/or youth are especially encouraged to participate. The assessment can be found online at A Spanish-language version is at .

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