It’s not only about discrimination

St. MMembers of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in 2009 Anchorage Pride marchary's Episcopal Church in 2009 Anchorage Pride march

Members of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in 2009 Anchorage Pride march. Photo by Mel Green.

In announcing the Alaska LGBT Community Survey last Sunday, I may have given a false impression that LGBT folks’ experience of discrimination & other antigay/antitrans bias is the only thing this survey is about.

It’s not.

That’s why we’re calling for a full survey, on a full range of the questions & concerns that we LGBT Alaskans would like to know the answers to ourselves, or that we’d like our friends, families, neighbors, faith communities, workplaces, health providers, political representatives & policymakers, and fellow citizens to know about us — without putting any one of us at personal risk of discrimination or bias to have answered.

For example, one set of questions in the original One in Ten questionnaire asked respondents which religious faiths they were raised in as a children, whether they still participated in the same religious faith (and if not, why not), and how often those who participated in any religious faith attended worship gatherings.  Another set asked a range of questions about physical and emotional health, including use (or nonuse) of alcohol and drugs, use of medical and mental health providers, whether or not providers were aware of a repondents’ sexual orientation, and — if they were — whether respondents felt their providers’ knowledge improved or worsened the kind of care they received.  Reliable answers to questions like these — particularly when cross-referenced with other important information derived from the survey — have great potential for helping LGBT-friendly faith communities extend and improve their ministries; and for health care providers, insurance companies, and public health policymakers to improve treatment of LGBT clients and to address LGBT-related health issues.

And so it goes for any other question or set of questions that appear in the survey. Just as the One in Ten in 1986 was “A profile of Alaska’s lesbian and gay community,” the Alaska LGBT Community Survey will be a profile of Alaska’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans community, covering a full range of questions we face in our lives and work.

Discrimination & bias included, of course.

* * *

Part of the design of any good survey is in having a good idea of what we already know.  So, besides using this blog to keep you updated on our progress on our survey—from designing it all the way to reporting its results—we’ll also have articles about what research has already told us about LGBT folks in general and LGBT folks in Alaska in particular.  We’ll also write about some of the issues that we’ll be addressing with our research design, such as making it truly representative of our community (both in questions asked, and in sampling), protecting the anonymity of respondents, and so on.

Stay tuned!

About Mel Green

Melissa S. (Mel) Green was the principal writer of One in Ten: A Profile of Alaska’s Lesbian & Gay Community (Anchorage, AK: Identity, Inc., 1986) and coauthor with Jay K. Brause of Identity Reports: Sexual Orientation Bias in Alaska (Identity, Inc., 1989). She also blogged extensively about the 2009 Anchorage equal rights ordinance on her personal & writing website, for which she was recognized by a True Diversity Award for Excellence in Online Media in September 2009. She administers the Alaska LGBT Community Survey website.
This entry was posted in Alaska LGBT Community Statewide Survey and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.