I am Carrie Lippy, an independent evaluator working with community-based and culturally specific domestic violence agencies. For the last two years, I have worked closely with the NW Network, an agency providing intervention and prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) survivors of abuse.
Thinking about community-level impacts often brings to mind regional or place-based notions of community. For example, interventions targeting neighborhoods, cities, or counties. However, many culturally specific programs aim to impact identity-based, rather than place-based communities. Identity-based communities are those developed among people with shared identities, such as sexual orientation or gender identities.
Below are some lessons learned & rad resources for evaluating community-level impacts for identity-based communities.
- Be clear on who the community is. Defining identity-based communities can be tricky. For example, when looking at impacts on LGBTQ communities, evaluators need to be mindful of the impressive diversity of LGBTQ people, recognizing that even the terminology used to identify members of these communities may differ widely. Terminology can differ by factors such as age, race/ethnicity, and region. Some members of LGBTQ communities may even identify as heterosexual (e.g., some transgender people).
- The importance of online community spaces for identity-based communities. Since identity-based communities typically have less connection to geographic areas, online spaces hold particular importance for connecting community members. In fact, even online spaces that are not culturally specific can still reach many identity-based communities. Recently, the National LGBTQ Domestic Violence Capacity Building Learning Center partnered with the National Domestic Violence Hotline to examine the experiences of LGBTQ survivors of domestic violence. Although the online survey was posted on the non-LGBTQ-specific Hotline website, nearly 600 LGBTQ survivors completed the survey, illustrating the reach of even non-culturally specific online spaces.
- A need for alternative sampling strategies. Some identity-based communities can be especially challenging to reach, making measuring community-level effects quite difficult. In my work with the NW Network, we’ve found snowball sampling strategies particularly effective for reaching marginalized members of LGBTQ communities, including some transgender communities of color or LGBTQ immigrants. Snowball sampling techniques utilize existing connections in communities to recruit research participants.
For those interested in learning more about culturally-specific research and practice in LGBTQ communities, check out:
- The Williams Institute: an LGBTQ research and policy think tank out of UCLA. They produce helpful reports ranging from LGBTQ demography studies to reviews on emerging policies and laws affecting LGBTQ communities (e.g., transgender bathroom legislation).
- A free, online library with resources on domestic violence in LGBTQ communities. The library was created by the National LGBTQ DV Capacity Building Learning Center, a joint project of the NW Network and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects.
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