Did you ever wonder about the LGBTQ population where you live? How many of us are there? How old (or young) are we? What races and ethnicities do we represent? What is the status of our health, or our households, or our finances?
Today it is impossible to determine the answers to these questions, but if you live in Broward County that's about to change. This summer you will be able to participate in an online census for the gay, lesbian, and transgender community called "The Count." The collected data will finally give us a statistical presence that not only provides an awareness of our numbers but also assembles information that can be used for public policy and funding decisions. The census is a collaborative effort that includes the United Way, Sunserve, the GLCC, Broward House, and the Broward County Department of Health. This is the first effort to quantify and document information about our community.
Why is this important? One key reason is that it will enable better funding for health care, social services, and other vital resources. For example, as Chair of the South Florida Methamphetamine Task Force, I have been frustrated in applying for funds that could provide additional treatment services because there is no specific data on the pervasiveness of substance abuse among Broward's LGBT population. In the case of meth, we know there is a serious problem but grant makers want specifics, and documenting how many people are affected, their other health concerns (like HIV or Hepatitis), or their treatment needs is impossible because there is no data. This seriously affects our ability to get funding to help the community. If we aren't seen or heard, we will be overlooked.
Many of my psychotherapy clients express frustration about what they perceive to be a lack of community. This census is an important step in affirming that we are not only here, but that we will be seen, heard, and counted.
"The Count" will go live this summer, but you can register now on the site to be notified about updates. For details go to www.lgbtcensus.com and help spread the word.