Tuesday, October 4

Northeast Ohio LGBTQ+ Asset Map Project Launches and Needs Your Participation

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To better understand the assets and needs of the LGBTQ+ community in Northeast Ohio, a first-of-its-kind LGBTQ+ Asset Map Project has been launched by Plexus LGBT & Allied Chamber of Commerce and Education Foundation, in collaboration with the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland..

Funded by the Cleveland Foundation, the project addresses an urgency to understand the local state of the LGBTQ+ community, identify where there are gaps in resources, address needs that have been exasperated by COVID-19, and ensure that those across marginalized communities have equity in obtaining those resources.

To reach the goal of strengthening, attracting, and retaining residents and businesses while creating a more welcoming, supportive, and safe place for the LGBTQ+ members, participants are needed to complete a 15-minute survey.

Amanda Cole

To find out more on the project, The Buckeye Flame spoke with Amanda Cole, Executive Director of Plexus. Spoiler alert: take the survey!

What do we not know that we need to know? What will the LGBTQ+ Asset Map help us discover?
We really don’t know anything quantifiably. Everything that we know is anecdotal or information from basic intake surveys that are mostly focused on general interests not connected to other demographic or data points. For example, Plexus might have some data on the number of LGBTQ+ identified folks, but we don’t have racial data or earning income potential or geographical information to correlate. We need rich and layered data.

We have national data points about, say, 90% of trans people experiencing workplace harassment. But what does that look like in Cleveland? What are those rates? We know that LGBTQ+ people are earning less and are underemployed, but what are the ways that is manifesting in Cleveland? How does that intersect with Cleveland being the trans murder capital? How does that intersect with the fact that Cleveland is one of the least welcoming places for black women to live? What does that mean for black lesbians? These are the types of things we need to know.

So we need people to take the survey.
We do. It takes around 15 minutes. It’s a long survey. It’s about the same amount of time that the census takes with very similar questions that the census has. The difference is [the LGBTQ+ community is] not included on the censuses unless you’re married, which is a very distinct and specific privilege.

And then after everyone fills out the survey, what can we do with the data?
What we hope that we can do with this data is inform city officials, economic development leaders, other business organizations, and the nonprofit sector of the strengths of our community. What is working in our region? Where are we welcoming? Where are the assets, whether that’s built infrastructure, organizational or human resources of people?

For non-LGBT organizations—like the food bank that is serving LGBT individuals, and probably not collecting that data on folks in the community—we can help to inform them about our needs and vulnerabilities. For LBGT organizations, we hope that this information provides data specifically to help us make the case for the services we provide to the community.

Will the public be able to see the data when it is all collected?
Absolutely. We are making the information publicly available. There will be a report with historical context in it, and we are continuing to seek funding to make the data as interactive and accessible as possible. We want to create Infographics and interactive web pages, but at bare minimum, all the information will be made available.

As we go into 2021, safety regulations permitting, we want to take the findings on a roadshow. We want the organizations involved in helping to gather this data to host town halls and roundtables so we talk about what’s in the data and we can challenge it if it doesn’t shore up with our lived experience. From the research side, we can continue to gather qualitative and anecdotal stories to help us visualize and understand the data.

So much more to come?
So much more to come.

And everyone should take the survey?
Everyone should definitely take the survey. 🔥

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About Author

Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He received the 2021 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBTQ Journalist of the Year from the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. He is the author of "Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew" (2017), "LGBTQ Cleveland" (2018), "LGBTQ Columbus" (2019), and "LGBTQ Cincinnati" (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University.

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