Group picture of The Results Are In! community launch event panelists: Top left to right - Dr Scott Hamler, Rev. Anissa Glaser-Bacon, Natalia Maikranz, Gert Wilms, Rebecca Callahan; Bottom left to right - Mar-Quetta Boddie, Dr. NJ Akbar, Andrew Snyder, Jim Mahon, Matthew Twinning-Weiderhold
Over the past two years, the Greater Akron LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment worked to capture as many local LGBTQ+ voices as possible. The goal was to collect data and organize it into a format that could help community partners (such as homeless shelters, schools, churches, universities, counselors, hospitals, and other service providers) and community leaders and members to make better decisions that are more aligned with the actual needs of LGBTQ+ people in Greater Akron. It has been well-known in the LGBTQ+ community that, even though many of these organizations intend to provide the needs of this population, they often fall short because of a lack of awareness, skills, and understanding. This is not surprising with the history of civil-rights and personal-expression being oppressed from multiple angles over the past several decades.
A group shot of the audience engaged in panel presentations
Andrew M. Snyder (He|Him), Program Director, says, "Since the LGBTQ+ community is often overlooked in local health data collection – we are often left to rely on national estimates and intuition to make decisions, plan community initiatives, and align scarce funding for resources." Snyder goes on to share, "Local decision making should take into account the lived experiences, fears, concerns, and needs as well as the potential strengths and accomplishments the needs assessment captured to ensure the communities input is taken into account."
We learned through the Greater Akron LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment of the expansive and growing diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and their needs. Historically, research in this area has been limited to cis-white-males, but this new research allowed all respondents to label themselves as they are, not as a predetermined option. This has led to finding that we are more diverse and vibrant than ever before known. Having this research available to those who provide education, healthcare, religious leadership, and other services allows for a more inclusive and understanding community, leading to healthier individuals.
Dr. NJ Akbar delivers insights and community recommendations about education and literacy
On August 18, 2022, the project shared a milestone event celebrating the completion of this work and sharing the newly accessible information with the community. The event was held at the Akron Art Museum, where nearly 200 people came to hear a panel of nine LGBTQ+ community leaders talk about the most pressing result findings and provide community recommendations to address the community's unmet needs. Topics at the event included health and wellness; religion and spirituality; education and literacy; housing, food, and nutrition; business, employment, and commerce; safety and law enforcement; as well as recreation and leisure.
The project has caught the attention of other local LGBTQ+ community structures in Northeast Ohio, leading groups in Greater Cleveland and Greater Youngstown to mobilize in order to conduct a needs assessment in their own communities. "Continuing to build on this momentous effort to collect grassroots community data in Greater Cleveland and Youngstown allows us not only to look into the unique LGBTQ+ communities of our neighboring cities but also the opportunity to create a 12-county repository of LGBTQ+ data, painting a unique picture of the current status of the LGBTQ+ community in Northeastern Ohio – which is LONG overdue," says Snyder.
Visit lgbtqohio.org to watch the launch event recording, see the final research results, submit future assessment questions, or request a presentation to your organization or group.
Attendees at welcome reception: left to right – Michael Wilson, Phillip Montgomery, Jill Oldham, and Jim Pecchio
Attendees at welcome reception: left to right – Andrew M. Snyder, Heidi Weisel, and Leigh Greene