LGBT TIG Week: Leia K. Cain on Avoiding Binaries in Evaluation

Welcome to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Evaluation Topical Interest Group (LGBT TIG) week on aea365! My name is Leia K. Cain, and I’m an instructor at the University of South Florida in the Educational Measurement and Research program. This week, I’m acting as the coordinator for the LGBT TIG’s blog posts.

One area of measurement in evaluation work that I feel really strongly about is the use of binaries. When you think about sexualities, do you only think of gay or straight? Homosexual or heterosexual? What if I told you that there were so many more categories in the in-between areas?

Lesson Learned: After reading Judith Butler’s work, I started working through the binaries under which my own thinking is structured. I still catch myself falling into binary thought categories sometimes, but I constantly work to “queer” my understanding of whatever the topic is at hand – I break apart my understanding and try to examine it.

In my particular line of work, I have examined the affect that outness has on the experiences and perceptions of LGBTQ individuals. However, I didn’t just ask participants if they were out or not – instead, I asked them to rate their outness on a scale from 1-6, where 1 meant “not at all out” and 6 meant “completely out.” This is similar to the Kinsey Scale; a scale created by Dr. Alfred Kinsey, who measured sexuality on a seven-point scale with categories ranging from 0-6.

I encourage thinking about how binaries could be stifling your evaluation and research work as well. After all, the world isn’t black or white, 0 or 1, or right and wrong. If you aren’t measuring the identities that fill the spaces in between, are you really reaching your entire audience?

Rad Resource: For more information on the Kinsey Scale, check out the Kinsey Institute’s webpage.

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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “LGBT TIG Week: Leia K. Cain on Avoiding Binaries in Evaluation”

  1. Thank you for explaining so concisely a concept that I hadn’t given much thought to before. I want to keep thinking about this idea and how it might inform my own evaluative work.

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