LGBTQ Week: Increasing your LGBTQ Cultural Competence by Libby Smith

Hi, my name is Libby Smith, I am an evaluator at the Applied Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and program co-chair for the LGBT Issues TIG. When I first took on the task of introducing LGBTQ Week on this blog, I considered that the most common conversations I have about cultural competence in evaluation are related to race and ethnicity.  What about LGBT cultural competence? It rarely comes up specifically in my own work, but I am regularly asked to consult with others on how to ask about gender/sex/sexual orientation in evaluation work (we’ll address this later this week!).

This leaves me with the feeling that people often think their work is done once they have asked these questions in a “correct” way. Obviously, it goes deeper than that, but how are we as evaluators expanding our cultural competence around LGBT issues? And this applies to LGBT evaluators as well (again, we will address this later in the week).

Rad Resources:

If you aren’t familiar with the AEA’s Statement on Cultural Competence, this is a wonderful place to start. The statement is intended to proactively assert the responsibility that we, as evaluators, should address the needs of culturally diverse populations in our work.

The statement doesn’t tell us how to achieve that goal though. We must take it upon ourselves to be open, self-aware, culturally humble, and intentional about educating ourselves.

The health care field has done exceptional work in developing tools to train providers in addressing the unique needs of LGBT individuals in both physical and mental health. While not directly applicable to most evaluation work, we can leverage these resources to expand our understanding of the many ways in which LGBT populations present diverse perspectives.

This week, evaluators from our TIG will share their strategies, experiences, and insights gained from being evaluators with a unique perspective. We will address gender, sexual orientation, and perspective-taking and hopefully change some perspectives in the process!


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.

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