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LGBT Week: Robert Hoke on Resources, Lessons, and Tips for Evaluators Attending to LGBT Issues

Greetings. I’m Robert Hoke, an independent consultant and co-chair of AEA’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Issues TIG. We hope you have found this week’s AEA365 blogs to be thought-provoking and informative. As we all strive to embody the principles found in the AEA Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation, it is important to learn about how our work may be perceived by members of other cultures.

While it is common to include analysis of sexual or identity in evaluation of HIV programs or anti-bullying programs, there are many other incidences where LGBT individuals may experience a problem differently such as domestic violence, addictions, homelessness, and aging. As evaluators, we may need to encourage our clients to examine how their programs affect the LGBT community even if the process makes them feel uncomfortable.

The LGBT Issues TIG provides visibility of and support for LGBT issues within AEA. The TIG serves LGBT-identified evaluation colleagues, LGBT allies, and evaluators interested in working with LGBT populations. It provides a safe forum to explore LGBT issues within AEA and in the profession. In recent years the TIG has sponsored sessions at the AEA Annual Conference that detail how to successfully incorporate LGBT concerns into evaluations. I encourage you to attend one of our sessions even if are not currently involved in a “LGBT Evaluation” or submit a paper in a TIG sponsored session.

Rad Resource: The leadership of the LGBT TIG is available as sounding board to how to increase the sensitivity of your evaluation tools to LGBT cultures or to suggest other evaluators or researchers who are knowledgeable about how LGBT issues may be different in your topic area. The TIG Leadership can be found at:

Rad Resource: Joe E. Heimlich, a professor at Ohio State and senior research associate with the Institute for Learning Innovation presented an AEA Coffeebreak Webinar in February 2011 entitled “Adding the LGBT Response Option to Questionnaires.” The webinar is available in the webinars archive for AEA members.

Lessons Learned: In addition to gender and sexual identity, survey questions about marital status also need to be sensitive to LGBTs. Domestic partnerships and same-sex marriages are becoming increasingly common. As a person in a 23-year relationship in a state that allows for neither option, I may be “never married” but I am certainly not “single.”

Hot Tip: Even though LGBT individuals do not engage in sex in any rate higher or lower than do heterosexuals, most people continue to conflate sex activity with sexual identity and gender identity. Heteronormativism is dominant in our culture and does make those of sexual identity and gender identity minorities very aware of when and how they are included in a conversation.

We’re celebrating LGBT Evaluation week with our colleagues in AEA’s LGBT Topical Interest Group. Follow @aeaweb on twitter this week, or subscribe to the week’s Headlines and Resources list for more LGBT Evaluation items of note. 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. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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  • Karen Anderson · February 11, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Robert, the words: thought-provoking, informative, culturally enriching, valuable, valued and many more come to mind when I think about this week’s LGBT AEA365 blog posts. Candidly, I can say that I did not think to incorporate information related to children and marital status into measurement tools for LGBT populations, and I considered myself to be relatively culturally competent in this area!

    From your post alone, I learned that incorporating some of the familial and lived experiences aspects into measurement tools is invaluable.

    The most important concept that I was reminded of took me to a portion of the AEA’s Statement on Cultural Competence, which you mentioned above, which states:

    “Cultural competence is not a state at which one arrives; rather, it is a process of learning, unlearning, and relearning. It is sensibility cultivated throughout a lifetime.”

    and I didn’t feel guilty about crossing every I, dotting every T, and making sure I include every LBGTQQ…because of my commitment to lifelong learning. I’m glad that I found an opportunity to add a few tools to my cultural tool belt. Heteronormativism is next on the agenda!
    I’m always looking for fresh, new ideas in regards to methodology and practice that are valued, valuable, and valid, and the nuggets from the LGBT TIG’s week are just that, they can get anyone up to speed on what’s happening in the world of LGBT evaluation. Thanks again!


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