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LGBT TIG Week: Maddy Boesen on How to Get Started with LGBTQ-Inclusive Evaluation

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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