Hello, our names are Morgan Wright (he/him/his) and John LaVelle (he/him/his), members of the Evaluation Studies community at the University of Minnesota, and working on a project to critically analyze and make recommendations about how to integrate LGBTQ+ topics and principles into evaluator education programs. Our premise is: evaluators often do their work from a place of privilege and not always as members of the communities that programs are designed to serve.
As such, it is the responsibility of evaluators who are “outsiders” to educate themselves about the communities they serve, and possible modalities include formal education programs, professional development workshops, and the like.
We hope these tips, tricks, and resources can be integrated into evaluator education experiences and contribute to conversations about how to do evaluations with communities rather than to them.
Hot Tip: Regularly check (and double-check) your assumptions and
Historically, many members of LGBTQ+ communities have been called inappropriate and hurtful terms. One thing evaluators can do is use the group’s preferred descriptors and a person’s preferred pronouns (click here for more information), and normalize it as part of contemporary evaluation practice. For example, we ask program participants and stakeholders what they would like to be called, explaining that we have no wish to accidentally perpetuate cisnormative or microaggressive behaviors. While it is not the burden of the LGBTQ+ community to educate evaluators, stripping away your own assumptions through reflective practice is crucial to avoid causing harm to the LGBTQ+ stakeholders engaged in evaluative practice.
Hot Tip: Positionality
and intersectionality are critical for working with LGBTQ+ communities.
The LGBTQ+ community is extremely diverse with many different cultures, beliefs, traditions, and history, as well as combinations based on individual and group identities and relationships to power. Understanding the many different identities within and between LGBTQ+ stakeholders is crucial towards effective evaluation because the quality of the evaluation data is dependent on building trust and rapport with stakeholders. For example, LGBTQ+ communities are, by definition, sexual and gender minorities, but racism and other prejudices exist within LGBTQ+ communities, leading to disparities among members of the LGBTQ+ community such as differing prevalence of certain disease diagnosis across different ethnicities for trans people, access to healthcare for Gay and Bisexual men of color in New York City, and other health outcomes such as national rates of new HIV diagnosis. We recommend the Basic Rights Education Fund’s Standing Together: Coming out for Racial Justice workbook, specifically the section titled “Ally 101” as a resource for learning about racism in LGBTQ+ communities and to help evaluators understand their own positionality and intersectionality.
Rad Resource: The LGBTQ-TA Center is a valuable resource offering much technical assistance and training to stakeholders working with LGBTQ+ communities. In particular, the LGBTQ Population Evaluation Guidelines contain multiple resources for evaluators to learn about culturally appropriate methods to work with while engaging with LGBTQ stakeholders. The report details specific considerations, such as the importance of confidentiality in data collection methods evaluators must incorporate into their practice in order to evaluate with LGBTQ communities and reduce potential harm to stakeholders.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.