AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

CAT | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues

Hi again, Fellow Evaluators! Amanda Jones, LGBT TIG Program Co-Chair, here again to provide some concluding thoughts on incorporating sensitivity to LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, intersex, asexual) folks into evaluations. Just as culturally competent evaluators think through all aspects of every evaluation as they relate to race and ethnicity, these same evaluators should also consider how their methods, measures, and reports relate to issues important to the LGBTQIA community.

Hot Tips:

  • Learn the meanings of the terms important to LGBTQIA individuals, and advocate for sensitivity to these individuals in all evaluations. Before we can ensure that LGBTQIA folks are well-served by our evaluations, we must first recognize who they are! UC Davis provides a useful glossary to explore.
  • Watch your assumptions. Do not assume everyone involved in your evaluation is heterosexual, or that that they identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. Read over your evaluation materials to see if they would address someone who is gay or transgender as well as someone who is heterosexual or cisgender (check that glossary!).
  • If you need to measure gender or sexual orientation in your evaluation, consult experts who have thought through the options. Luckily, many have put guidelines online, including the Human Rights Campaign and the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. In addition, you could contact the leadership of the LGBT TIG to see if they might be able to help.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating LGBT TIG Week with our colleagues in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our LGBT TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hi there! I’m Scout Black, Research Associate at Smith & Lehmann Consulting. For today’s post, I’m tackling the importance of LGBTQ representation and affirmation in research and evaluation, and especially how that impacts young people.

A good deal of my time is spent planning and facilitating our Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) interns and research assistants, who are all between the ages of 15 and 19, and I have the wonderful opportunity to mentor and provide guidance to these amazing teens as they conduct research to inform the youth-serving project we are evaluating. In my work, I interact with many young people of many varying identities, including those within the LGBTQ community. It’s very important to me that I create a safe space for them to learn and grow and be accepted for who they are, while also representing to them that as an LGBTQ person myself, people in our community can excel in research and evaluation fields and be out and accepted by our employers. By both setting up a safe, affirming environment for budding researchers and evaluators, where their identities are validated and accepted, and by providing visible representation of an LGBTQ person in the field, young people can see themselves represented and envision themselves as future researchers.

Hot Tips:

  • Make your Equal Employment Opportunity language inclusive. By seeing that their potential employer explicitly does not discriminate against applicants based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, young researchers can feel safe being themselves in their workplace.
  • Make pronoun introductions routine. During group meetings, focus groups, or any other scenario that involves introductions (e.g. name, job title, etc.), ask people to share their pronouns. This sets the stage for inclusion and shows youth and young adult researchers/participants that their identities are respected and celebrated.
  • Be vocal on issues of inclusion and diversity. If disparaging comments are being made about people with marginalized identities, address them head-on. Silence speaks volumes.
  • Be yourself. If you’re out, be out. If you’re not comfortable being out, that’s okay too – there’s no one way to be an LGBTQ person. Youth and young adult researchers seeing that they can be themselves in this field can build, diversify, and strengthen the profession.

I hope to see our profession grow and flourish with young talent of varying identities, and hope that these tips may help you in your interactions with budding LGBTQ youth/young adult researchers.

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating LGBT TIG Week with our colleagues in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our LGBT TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Happy LGBTQ+ Evaluator Week! I’m Joseph Van Matre, an institutional research analyst at the University of California*.

Surveys are an integral part of evaluation, and when designing a survey, gender is often the second question after name. We add it to our surveys without a second thought. But do we need to know?

Evaluators are, by our nature, curious people, but evaluations are not fishing expeditions. Look carefully at the program’s theory of action and your own evaluation plan.

Cool Trick: Ask yourself:

  • Is this program targeted at a particular sex or gender (they’re different!)?
  • Is there reason to believe that this program will have a differential impact on participants/subjects of different genders or sexes?
  • Do you need to collect gender/sex information of everyone involved in the program, or just some participants (e.g. teachers and students?)
  • Do you have the time, resources, and mandate to evaluate and report on gender/sex differentials?

While our first instinct is to collect as much data as possible about the programs and interventions that we evaluate, it is our responsibility not to collect and store personal information that we do not need. If you will not or cannot use information on someone’s sex or gender, you do not need to ask in the first place.

Ask for what you need to know. Unless you are evaluating a health-related program, you probably only want to ask about a person’s gender.

It is often best to allow people to identify their gender in an open ended way: I identify my gender as ___________. With large-scale surveys, you can provide male, female and an open response so that you only manually code responses that are not male or female.

Hot Tip:

Some government agencies or funders may require rigid gender reporting. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) requires colleges and universities to report the gender of every student as either male or female. Even unknown or missing is not an option, leading to some very strange reporting outcomes.

While dreadfully cliché, the adage, “say what you mean and mean what you say,” is an important rule when reporting evaluation outcomes related to sex and gender.  Your forethought and planning will make your communication inclusive and accurate.

Cool Trick:

For example, when you ask people to identify their gender on a survey, the phrase, “there were 24 men in our sample” can be replaced by, “27 people in our sample identified themselves as male.”

It is our job to continually educate ourselves about the people and programs we evaluate, and any population is likely to include people who do not fall within the gender binary. Asking for exactly what you need (or not asking at all!) is a simple way to create more inclusive evaluations.

* The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, positions or policy of the University of California.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating LGBT TIG Week with our colleagues in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our LGBT TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for

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Hi, I’m Carlos Romero, Co-chair of the LGBT Issues TIG. Being gay makes me a better evaluator.  Let me explain. I specialize in systems evaluation, which is grounded in systems thinking theory. It involves testing hypotheses using four universal patterns of thinking:  distinction making, part-whole system structure, relationships, and perspective.  When evaluation is focused on learning, the driving force behind my work, there is a premium on perspective.  Our human tendency is to see the world through the lens of what we already think is true. Coming out later in life, after a brief stint in conversion therapy, I know firsthand what it’s like to be locked in a perspective.  This blog is personal, but it illustrates how our personal lives can influence our professional lives.

Prior to my ex-communication, a pastor summarized the religious perspective behind the position that homosexuality is a sin, a choice, and can be changed. “We will always be loving, always be learning, but we will never change our position on this issue.”   How can you truly learn if you only consider evidence that supports one position and dismiss any information that might threaten it?  The heated debate on sexual orientation is an extreme example, perhaps.  But how often do we do this in subtler ways in evaluation?

Lessons Learned:

What does it take to change our perspective?  Direct experience can adjust our thinking quickly.  A friend who lost everything in the recession went from being adamantly opposed to government programs of any kind to being grateful for the services his special needs son received at his public school. A dramatic shift to be sure, but that same friend still can’t fathom how I could possibly “choose” to be gay.  Personal experience is powerful, but unreliable as a change agent. We can’t experience every perspective directly, but we can get better at perspective-taking if we understand its nature.
Perspective involves the other universal patterns of thinking: distinction-making, part-whole systems, and relationships. LGBT, for example, is not monolithic nor does it exist in a silo. There are the distinct parts of LGBT and well as distinct parts to our identity such as generational, spiritual, political, etc – all of which relate in diverse ways. I experience the G in LGBT – but that is in combination with being a 47-year old male, Latino, Christian, upper middle class, liberal from New Mexico. I must be cautious about making assumptions about other LGBT perspectives.

Being mindful of perspective in a systems thinking context is what cultural responsiveness looks like in practice. It’s understanding that the same thing might look different from another perspective. Taking perspective is a skill that can be learned and honed; being good at taking perspective is recognizing that you can never be perfect at it.  You must always allow for the new and unknown.  Perspective is one of my most valuable tools. Understanding that an alternative perspective’s validity does not necessarily threaten a differing or opposing perspective – but it might.

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating LGBT TIG Week with our colleagues in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our LGBT TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hi, Everyone! My name is Amanda Jones, and I am one of the program chairs for the LGBT Issues TIG. I have a background in clinical psychology that has proven invaluable in my work as an independent evaluator.

I am writing today about a nagging question I had when I first learned about the LGBT TIG at AEA: Who does the LGBT TIG exist to serve? Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQIA) evaluators, or evaluators interested in addressing LGBTQIA issues through evaluation?

After many informal conversations and email exchanges with other LGBT TIG members, I’ve concluded that this TIG is serving both purposes. It’s a place to connect with other evaluators with similar backgrounds, and a forum for exploring the best ways to address LGBTQIA issues in evaluation. In fact, both purposes are connected to the values AEA supports, including diversity of membership and culturally responsive evaluations.

So, what does this mean for other evaluators reading this post?

Hot Tip:

The leaders of the LGBT TIG would love to hear from you if:

  • You identify as LGBTQIA. Many of us also identify that way, and are interested in getting to know – and maybe even working with — other evaluation professionals with similar identities.
  • You want to increase the sensitivity of your evaluations to the LGBTQIA community. We won’t necessarily have ready-made answers for every issue, but many of us have thought a great deal about these issues in evaluation and would love to act as a sounding board.

We hope to hear from you soon! 

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating LGBT TIG Week with our colleagues in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our LGBT TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hi, my name is Libby Smith, I am an evaluator at the Applied Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and program co-chair for the LGBT Issues TIG. When I first took on the task of introducing LGBTQ Week on this blog, I considered that the most common conversations I have about cultural competence in evaluation are related to race and ethnicity.  What about LGBT cultural competence? It rarely comes up specifically in my own work, but I am regularly asked to consult with others on how to ask about gender/sex/sexual orientation in evaluation work (we’ll address this later this week!).

This leaves me with the feeling that people often think their work is done once they have asked these questions in a “correct” way. Obviously, it goes deeper than that, but how are we as evaluators expanding our cultural competence around LGBT issues? And this applies to LGBT evaluators as well (again, we will address this later in the week).

Rad Resources:

If you aren’t familiar with the AEA’s Statement on Cultural Competence, this is a wonderful place to start. The statement is intended to proactively assert the responsibility that we, as evaluators, should address the needs of culturally diverse populations in our work.

The statement doesn’t tell us how to achieve that goal though. We must take it upon ourselves to be open, self-aware, culturally humble, and intentional about educating ourselves.

The health care field has done exceptional work in developing tools to train providers in addressing the unique needs of LGBT individuals in both physical and mental health. While not directly applicable to most evaluation work, we can leverage these resources to expand our understanding of the many ways in which LGBT populations present diverse perspectives.

This week, evaluators from our TIG will share their strategies, experiences, and insights gained from being evaluators with a unique perspective. We will address gender, sexual orientation, and perspective-taking and hopefully change some perspectives in the process!

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating LGBT TIG Week with our colleagues in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our LGBT TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Welcome to 2016! My name is Leia K. Cain, and I’m an instructor at the University of South Florida in the Educational Measurement and Research program. I’m here to wish you a bright and wonderful 2016, and wrap up our aea365’s LGBT TIG week!

Making (and keeping!) resolutions is something that I tend to struggle with. While many of us will be working out this week, gym attendance will surely be falling by February. However, I’m here to suggest a resolution that you can definitely feel good about making and keeping – be more inclusive in your evaluation work!

This week, we have given you tips on things to consider when thinking about including LGBTQ populations within your work. Considering sexual and gender diversity is just as important as considering any other types of cultural diversity. After all, you may not know if there are tensions or difficulties for LGBTQ populations within an organization or program unless you ask.

Hot Tips: Consider having more categories for gender identity, such as; cisgender* male, cisgender female, transgender male, transgender female, and gender queer**. Invite participants to “select all that apply,” and also allow participants to write in their own gender identity!

Consider also allowing participants to write in their own sexual orientation.

Don’t use options and terms like “other.” This sort of language is the opposite of inclusive; it instead pushes individuals out. It’s exclusive – which is definitely not in line with our resolution to be more inclusive!

I hope that this week has been informative for you, and that you will consider LGBTQ populations within your future work! Remember that inclusivity not only adds depth to your work… it also makes sure that everyone is a part of your bigger picture.

*Cisgender: An identity which applies to individuals who identify with the sex they were assigned at birth.

**Gender queer: An identity that marks when an individual does not fit into the gender binary – therefore, they do not identify as male or female.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating LGBT TIG Week with our colleagues in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our LGBT TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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This is Efrain Gutierrez with FSG and Grisel M. Robles-Schrader with Robles-Schrader Consulting. We want to share some suggestions to help cisgender heterosexual allies support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQ+) communities in culturally responsive evaluations. Allies who seek to address LGBTQ+ needs should consider the following:

Hot Tips:

  1. Acknowledge your privilege. Some things you have taken for granted are not always accessible to the LGBTQ+ community: broad community support, bathrooms appropriate to your gender identity, acceptance in places of worship, and protection against discrimination are just a few examples. Reflecting on how the unavailability of these supports might affect LGBTQ+ communities will help you identify blind spots and ask better questions during interviews and surveys.
  2. Get educated. Expand your knowledge of LGBTQ+ terminology and the history of the LGBTQ+ movement in the US. Don’t expect members of the community to have to educate you. Be proactive!
  3. Ensure that LGBTQ+ folks are partners in your evaluation activities. Evaluators can’t reflect the needs and experiences of the LGBTQ+ community if members of this community are not included in meaningful ways in the evaluation activities. You can’t represent people that have not been invited to collaborate as equal partners in the process.
  4. Be a good listener. When members of the LGBTQ+ community share personal experiences during interviews or focus groups, listen carefully. Don’t focus on what you want to say next, or offer alternative explanations (e.g., “They probably didn’t mean that”). Understand that some LGBTQ+ experiences are unique to their lives and you might not relate. Sometimes the role of an ally is to simply give a chance for the voiceless to be heard.
  5. Speak up but not over. After listening to LGBTQ+ communities, spread awareness by using your privileges and resources to help them reach others. The most effective way to share power is to empower LGBTQ communities to share their own stories instead of filtering them through your understanding as a cis/heterosexual person. Use direct quotes in your evaluations and always give credit to those you are learning from.
  6. Create safe spaces. Unfortunately there are still spaces unreceptive to LGBTQ+ stories. Speak up when people make homophobic comments and educate others. As an ally, you can help create opportunities for safety where resistance occurs. It can be as simple as coming out as an ally to your family, workplace, and/or house of worship, or it may require a more lengthy, involved process of opening hearts and minds. Remember that sharing cannot occur where fear exists.

Being an ally goes beyond being merely accepting of LGBTQ+ communities; it requires intentionality, learning, and action!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating LGBT TIG Week with our colleagues in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our LGBT TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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I’m Maddy Boesen and I am a Research Associate at the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at NYU Steinhardt.

So you’ve decided that your next evaluation will be inclusive of the issues that your lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) respondents may face. Now what? How will you know the relevant issues to ask them about? You don’t have to know everything about LGBTQ issues to successfully include LGBTQ people in your evaluation; you just have to know about what’s relevant to your evaluation.

Hot Tip: First, figure out what issues are relevant to your population. LGBTQ people of all walks of life are already organizing around the issues that matter. A quick web search including “LGBTQ” and some of the characteristics that describe your population can point you to the organizations, research, and news items that will be salient to your study.

Rad Resource: National nonprofits and activist movements can help you get a sense of what is important to a variety of subpopulations: elders, K-12 students, undocumented immigrants, and even STEM professionals. Be sure to remember your transgender population; they may face slightly different or additional challenges. Local LGBTQ community centers and activist groups can help you hone in on the factors that may affect your LGBT population the even further.

Hot Tip: Spend time figuring out which information is relevant to you. For example, AEA365 contributor Emily Greytak yesterday discussed considering respondents’ identities, behaviors, and attitudes to select appropriate, respectful ways to measure sexual orientation and gender identity in evaluation. It’s also important to know that information respondents’ sexual and gender identities will not be enough to answer some questions, like when assessing the extent of experiences of discrimination or harassment. In those situations, it can be helpful to include a measure of respondents’ outness or visibility regarding their gender or sexual orientation; greater visibility can mean greater vulnerability. Use the information you’ve gathered to think about the process you’ll need to identify.

Lesson Learned: A little specificity goes a long way when it comes building a knowledge base for LGBTQ-inclusive evaluation. I’ve even used local knowledge to resist pushback I’ve received about LGBTQ-inclusive survey questions; when I can point to evidence that these topics are relevant to the population, my LGBTQ-inclusive questions tend to stay in my evaluations. LGBTQ people exist everywhere – you just have to ask.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating LGBT TIG Week with our colleagues in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our LGBT TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

 

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I’m Emily Greytak, the Director of Research at GLSEN, a national organization addressing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) issues in K-12 education. At GLSEN, we are particularly interested in the experiences of LGBTQ people, but also know that it’s important to identify LGBTQ individuals in even more general evaluation research – whether just as basic descriptive information about the sample, or to examine potential differential experiences.

Lessons Learned: When considering the best ways to identify LGBTQ people in your evaluations, here are four key questions to ask before selecting your measures:

  • What do you want to assess? The LGBTQ population includes identities based on both sexual orientation (LGBQ) and gender identity (T). Sometimes you might want to assess both; other times, one might be more salient. For example, if you want to know about gender differences in use of a resource, sexual orientation may not as necessary to assess whereas gender identity would be. Within each of these broader constructs, there are different elements. For example, do you want to know about sexual identity, same-gender sexual behavior, and/or same-gender sexual attraction – if you are examining an intervention designed to affect sexual activity, then behavior might be the most key.
  • What is your sample? Are you targeting an LGBTQ-specific population or a more general population? The specificity of your measures and variety of your response options might differ. What about age? Language comprehension and vernacular could vary greatly. For example, with youth populations, the identity label “queer” might be fairly commonplace, whereas with older generations, this might still be predominantly considered a slur and could its inclusion could put off respondents.
  • What are your measurement options? Can you include select all options for sexual identity or gender? Can you include definitions for those who need them? Can you use multiple items to identify a construct (e.g. assessing transgender status by asking current gender along with assigned sex)?
  • What can do you with it? Consider your capacity for analysis – e.g., do you have expertise and resources to assess write-in responses? Once you are able to identify LGBTQ people in your sample, what do you plan to do with it? For example, if you aren’t able to examine differences between transgender males and females, perhaps a simpler transgender status item is sufficient (as opposed a measure that allows for gender-specific responses).

Once you answer these questions, then you can move on to selecting your specific measures. Use the Rad Resources for guidance and best practices.

Rad Resources:

Best Practices for Asking About Sexual Orientation

Best Practices for Asking Questions to Identify Transgender and Other Gender Minority Respondents

Making Your Evaluation Inclusive: A Practical Guide for Evaluation Research with LGBTQ People

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating LGBT TIG Week with our colleagues in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our LGBT TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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