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New report highlights LGBT community needs
by Matt Simonette
2019-05-01

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Systemic inequities, healthcare availability and unemployment and under-employment are among the Chicago-area LGBT community's principal current concerns, according to a new survey released April 30.

About 2,000 individuals participated in the survey, the 2019 Chicago LGBTQ Community Needs Assessment, which was conducted by the Morten Group consultancy with funding from the LGBT Community Fund of the Chicago Community Trust.

Officials from Morten Group and the Trust discussed key findings at an April 30 presentation at Affinity Community Services.

Morten Group CEO Mary Morten called the project a "first layer of researching and benchmarking" that community organizations, governments and other stakeholders can utilize for data about the Chicago LGBT community. The first such survey took place in 2012.

Researcher Jessica Kadish-Hernandez said she and her colleagues tried to use "an intersectional lens" in their inquiries and data aggregation, since the the LGBTQ community falls under a wide umbrella and is made up of incredibly diverse demographics.

About 1,626 individuals filled out a comprehensive online survey, about 413 filled out abbreviated data cards at community events, and researchers held about six focus groups, said researcher Keisha Farmer-Smith, who noted that the organization Brave Space Alliance was especially active in making sure that the survey reached younger respondents. About 70 community partners took part, Morten said.

Among the key themes that emerged from the data were concerns about inequities between members of the LGBT community, especially between the cisgender/white population and persons of color, differently-abled persons and transgender and gender-nonconforming persons; availability of quality, culturally-competent healthcare; unemployment and under-employment; access to government services; community safety and violence prevention; and affordable housing and gentrification.

Another theme that emerged, Farmer-Smith noted, was the overall strength and resiliency of the community. She mentioned one respondent appreciated that, no matter how fragmented the community can become, it "has each others' backs" in times of duress.

Denise Foy of the LGBT Community Fund said that the research would be used in establishing future priorities at the agency. She additionally noted that the Fund has provided over a million dollars to about 32 organizations.

"We're a small but mighty group," said Foy.

Morten spoke about the importance of making the research widely available to different constituencies, since similar data is oftentimes siloed and made inaccessible for many practical purposes.

"We know that there's application for [the data] in many different ways," she added. " … We have a lot more data than we did the first time around."

The complete report is available for download at bit.ly/2vvriog.


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