People watch the Pride in the CLE parade in downtown Cleveland.
People watch the Pride in the CLE parade in downtown Cleveland. Credit: By HL Comeriato, The Buckeye Flame

From sharing social media posts to participating on committees, everyone in the Greater Cleveland LGBTQ+ community is invited to take part in an important needs assessment survey of LGBTQ+ community challenges and how best to address them.

The Greater Cleveland LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment involves nearly 100 local community organizations working together to identify and tackle the area’s most pressing LGBTQ+ issues. Assessment results will be used to develop strategies and recommendations.

The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland is the primary community partner in the study, which is led by Kent State University’s College of Public Health. The Cleveland Foundation, the George Gund Foundation and the Mt. Sinai Health Foundation are funding the work.

Insights can lead to solutions

The data collected will help identify the unique needs and challenges that LGBTQ+ individuals and communities face, which broader, mainstream services or policies may not be adequately address. For example, LGBTQ+ people may face discrimination, stigma and marginalization in healthcare, education, housing, employment and other areas of life. Those barriers can impact their health, social support and overall wellbeing.

Stakeholders hope to gain a better understanding of these unique needs and challenges and develop tailored interventions, programs and policies to address them. This can help ensure that LGBTQ+ people receive the support and services they need to thrive and can help promote greater equality and inclusion for all.

This needs assessment employs community-based participatory research (CBPR) principles designed to empower, uplift and engage the community to identify what the members of the Greater Cleveland LGBTQ+ community think are the top priorities. 

Executive Director Phyllis Harris said the Center is committed to making sure the needs assessment process includes “the diverse voices and perspectives within the LGBTQ+ community.” Harris is also the chair of the assessment’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

The assessment area includes Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties. Activities to gather feedback include intersectionality focus groups and key-stakeholder interviews.

The study’s critical areas include:

  • Health and wellness
  • Religion and spirituality 
  • Education and literacy 
  • Housing, food and basic needs 
  • Business and commerce 
  • Safety and law enforcement
  • Recreation and leisure

Following Akron’s example

Kent State’s College of Public Health led a similar assessment in Greater Akron in 2022 that provided dozens of short- and long-term recommendations to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people in that community. Recommendations ranged from helping more LGBTQ+ people register to vote to cultivating a culture of inclusiveness, open-mindedness, empathy, acceptance and respect. 

Results of the assessment prompted the Akron City Council to vote unanimously to ban conversion therapy for youth. The Akron Bar Association is also taking action to address safety and law enforcement concerns identified in the report by creating a six-part series of training and continuing education sessions for first responders and legal professionals.

Members of the Greater Cleveland LGBTQ+ community and allies can help make the new study a success by providing input and participating in the subcommittee meetings to develop the community survey, focus groups and stakeholder interviews.

Take the survey.

The Buckeye Flame is an online platform dedicated to amplifying the voices of LGBTQ+ Ohioans to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging content that chronicles their triumphs, struggles, and lived experiences.

The Buckeye Flame amplifies the voices of LGBTQ+ Ohioans to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging content that chronicles triumphs, struggles, and lived experiences.