The Community Survey: Who We Are

— by Mel Green, Crossposted from

In announcing the Alaska LGBT Community Survey — I call it AKQ for short — I frequently used the word "we." "We've decided…," "we'll use the survey…," "we aim…."

So just who are "we" — besides, of course, me?

In 1985-1986, "we" were the volunteers of Identity, Inc. which put together the survey instrument for One in Ten, administered it to LGB respondents throughout the state, tallied up the results, & wrote the report One in Ten: A Profile of Alaska's Lesbian & Gay Community (1986).

In 1987-1989, "we" were a lot of volunteers & a few people who got some pay (I think), who contacted & interviewed respondents who had experienced violence, harassment, discrimination because they were, or were perceived to be, lesbian or gay (yes, some of our respondents were heterosexual people who were misperceived at being homosexual), who surveyed Anchorage area landlords & employers, & who compiled the information gathered from those efforts & wrote them up in Identity Reports: Sexual Orientation Bias in Alaska (1989).

Right here & now, on September 13, 2010, "we" are three people who met last Thursday & decided to do this. Let me introduce us:

  • Melissa S. "Mel" Green. I was part of the "we" in both 1985-86 effort that resulted in One in Ten, of which I was principal writer; and in the 1987-1989 effort which resulted in Identity Reports, of which I was coauthor (along with Jay Brause). I'm also have my personal blog,, from whence I did a lot of blogging last year about the Anchorage equal rights ordinance AO-64, which passed the Anchorage Assembly only to be vetoed by Mayor Dan Sullivan. I'm also a 20-year staff member at the UAA Justice Center, where I've grown even more familiar with social science research, and developed relationships with some of the research faculty who we hope to have help from throughout our work on the current survey.
  • Shelby Carpenter is the LGBT Public Policy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska… and I'll let her tell you more about herself as she has time. [Ed: Read Shelby's introduction.]
  • Barbara Soule is a longtime Alaska resident and LGBT community activist who is jumpstarting our outreach to the trans community. I'll let you her tell you more about herself as she has time, too.

By now, you might be asking, three people?!!! Just three people are going to conduct a high quality research project covering the LGBT population of the entire state of Alaska?!!!

Well, no. Because our very first step is to bring in more people. So right now the three of us are doing a lot of work behind-the-scenes to contact people to form our Community Survey Task Force. The Task Force's job will be defined more completely as its formed; but as I see it, it's functions will chiefly be to:

  1. Revise and update the One in Ten survey questionnaire to reflect changes in society that have taken place since 1985, the need for trans-inclusiveness, and new questions/issues that we'd like to address in the survey. (And perhaps additional smaller surveys.)
  2. Continue to conduct outreach to the LGBT and allied community in all areas of the state, both for complete coverage of our community in all its diversity, and in particular to solicit respondents who are willing to be interviewed about instances of discrimination, harassment, violence, or other forms of bias that they have experienced because they are, or were perceived to be, trans, bisexual, gay, or lesbian.
  3. Coordinate distribution and administration of the survey, data entry, and analysis and writing of the report(s) of our findings.

We hope to have our first meeting of the Community Survey Task Force in late September/early October. By the necessities of geography and the inability of most people to be more than one place at one time, it may be that our first meeting can consist of only those people who can easily travel to Southcentral Alaska for an Anchorage-based meeting. But we will be working on how to make sure we can fully involve both organizations and individuals in all parts of the state.

Another task that we're working on already is beginning our outreach to the trans community. We are committed to making AKQ — again, that's what I've taken to calling the Alaska LGBT Community Survey for short — fully trans-inclusive, not only in the kinds of questions that appear in the survey — but also in participating on the Task Force in questionnaire design, administration, and analysis. All three of us are involved in some aspect of this, with Barbara and I contacting people we know in the Alaska trans community & Shelby working with national-level trans organizations and activists who have conducted research within the trans community throughout the country.

Barbara is also coordinating focus groups for members of the trans community to get input on questionnaire design. We hope to hold the first of these at the Alaska Pride Conference 2010 sponsored by Identity, Inc. to be held October 9 in Anchorage and a second one probably about a week later, also in Anchorage, for those who cannot attend the Pride Conference. We'll also work on how we can involve transfolk in other areas of the state in our research effort.

As we continue to organize our effort, I hope soon to be able to introduce other people involved in this effort on this blog; better yet, to let them introduce themselves & add their voices to this blog, & to our overall effort to invigorate & strengthen our community statewide & advance our effort for full social and economic justice for LGBT in Alaska & nationally.

Stay tuned to our progress and news about how to get involved by subscribing to this blog, "liking" our Facebook page, and/or following our Twitter feed @alaskacommunity. You can also write to us at You can also find all our contact info on our About page.

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