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New survey collecting LGBTQ+ data first in Connecticut

Connecticut's launched its first statewide LGBTQ+ survey this year, an effort to collect data on LGBTQ+ residents and gain a better understanding of their needs, concerns and experiences living in the state.

The LGBTQ+ Community Needs and Assessment survey is available at https://bit.ly/3siusqC. It is completely anonymous, entirely online, offered in English and Spanish and takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete. It's being conducted by the state's LGBTQ+ Health and Human Services Network, which was created by the state legislature in 2019 to make recommendations on health services for LGBTQ+ individuals living in Connecticut.

The survey's purpose is to identify the needs of members of the LGBTQ+ community statewide by asking questions about their needs, access to services and experiences with discrimination related to their basic needs, safety, housing, physical health, mental health and social support.

The network partnered with various organizations and state departments to create and conduct the survey, including the Connecticut Department of Public Health Office of Health Equity and The Consultation Center at Yale University.

Amy Griffin, director of health evaluation initiatives at the Consultation Center at Yale, said she hopes the survey tells all members of the LGBTQ+ community in the state that their voice matters. The survey, she said, is an important way to provide data to lawmakers, advocates and funders.

"This survey was done in part in response to advocates that held listening sessions back in 2018 with LGBTQ+ communities and the idea that we need to learn more about what LGBTQ+ people are experiencing in Connecticut," she said.

Since the U.S. census doesn't identify people as LGBTQ+ unless they are in a documented partnership, Griffin said, this survey is one of the first attempts to get a full, accurate count of Connecticut's LGBTQ+ community.

"We have no idea how many people identify as LGBTQ in Connecticut, so that's our first charge. To just get an understanding of the number of people in the community," she said. "Then, we want to find out what their experiences are and just do a pulse check of where people feel like there are strengths or challenges."

The survey data also will be made available to the public to raise awareness about issues affecting the state's LGBTQ+ population and will help state organizations better write grant applications to support their programs.

The survey, which is open to all members of the LGBTQ+ community who are over 18, also gives participants a chance to share their thoughts in an open-ended prompt. Griffin said that so far, a lot of people have used that space to express gratitude for the survey's existence. "People seem really grateful for the opportunity to express their feelings," she said.

The survey launched on Feb. 25 and is open for three more weeks. So far, about 1,500 people have completed it, but Griffin said officials are hoping thousands more will respond in order to get a diverse, accurate collection of data.

"Within every section of the LGBTQ+ community we really want to make sure that there is a good representation of age, race, income, sex and county location," she said.

t.hartz@theday.com

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