Community needs assessment seeks to improve physical and mental health of local LGBTQ+ community

LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment

LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment

Serena Shortridge Reporter

A recent survey organized by the College of Public Health seeks to gain insight on the physical and mental health status of local LGBTQ+ community members.

The assessment uses a survey to collect research, which can be completed by texting “Survey” to PRIDE22266. 

It asks questions regarding experiences, perceptions and concerns that local members of the LGBTQ+ community have faced. 

The survey has been organized into seven focus areas:

  • Health and wellness

  • Religion and spirituality

  • Education and literacy

  • Housing, food and nutrition

  • Business, employment and commerce

  • Safety and law enforcement

This is the first-ever conducted comprehensive, LGBTQ+ specific needs assessment of its kind. It’s hoping to serve greater Akron and the surrounding areas in figuring out proper allocation of resources. 

Research Program Coordinator Andrew Snyder raised $145,000 in local grant funding to support the project, seeing it as a unique opportunity to gain insights on members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Since all of the gathered information is made publicly available, it becomes a resource for grant writers, program coordinators and more,” Snyder said. “This information base can then be used and relied on to make sure that their actions being taken align with the current needs of the LGBTQ+ community.”

The College of Public Health plans to use the information gathered from this survey to share in magazine format alongside a digital version. 

Magazine editions of the results will be placed in waiting rooms and across the university. Snyder plans to boost reach and engagement with students by doing so.

LGBTQ+ representation as an important goal of the assessment for Cristina González Alcalá, the Community Investment Officer at the Akron Community Foundation. 

“The responses to the survey are crucial in bringing awareness and representation to everyone under the LGBTQ umbrella,” Alcalá said. “There’s never been a chance before now for us all to show up and share individual stories, it’s empowering and makes the community in general safer to be in.”

Through continuing to show up and support LGBTQ-related work, Alcalá believes that people who do not share the same lived experiences will have a greater chance of becoming educated and supportive of the cause.

“Even straight allies who are affirming and welcoming might not have all of the knowledge of what lived experience can be like,” she said. “My hope is that this assessment gives insight to what another person’s life can be like and better understanding neighbors, coworkers and more because of it.” 

Serena Shortridge is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].