WSU to lead state’s first comprehensive LGBTQ+ survey

The state flag of Washington with one half edited to look like the colors of a rainbow.
Image by Dmitry Larichev on iStock.

PULLMAN, Wash. —  While Washington state is considered one of the most LGBTQ-friendly states in the nation, researchers will soon be looking to learn more about the facts behind this rainbow reputation and the issues that concern LGBTQ+ residents.

A team led by Washington State University researcher Traci Gillig has been awarded $500,000 by the Washington State LGBTQ Commission to conduct a survey of the state’s LGBTQ+ community. While some national surveys include Washington data, this is the first to focus solely on the state. Researchers will be collecting a range of information from demographics and geographical dispersion to economic opportunities as well as health and safety concerns.

“We want to reach as many LGBTQ+ people as possible and include a wide variety of voices and people from underrepresented groups,” said Gillig. “We hope to help the commission reach its goal of making informed policy recommendations.”

Closeup of Traci Gillig
Traci Gillig

For the first phase of the project, the team will work with the commission to further develop the survey questions. Data collection is expected to begin in 2024 with results planned for delivery by mid-2025. The researchers plan to recruit participants at local Pride events across the state and through outreach to local organizations as well as via online forms and social media.

Gillig has extensive experience in gender research and conducting surveys of LGBTQ+ youth in particular. The expertise of Gillig and her graduate students at WSU will be complemented by Veronica S. Smith from Sankofa Consulting and Crystallee Crain from Prevention at the Intersections. This study team brings a combined depth and breadth of experience working with LGBTQ+ people, including those who are from underrepresented groups and who live in rural areas.

After the survey is completed, Gillig hopes to use the data to inform further research to better understand the experiences of LGBTQ+ people across the state.

“We are trying to really dig into the challenges that people are facing and the things that might be preventing them from having the same opportunities and healthy and safe lives as others,” Gillig said. “We want to hear from everyone. This is a great way to have your voice heard.”

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