A report released earlier this month by the City of Seattle’s LGBT Commission recommends that the city develop an LGBTQ Community Center as a way to address many issues identified in a 2010 survey. Marriage equality, harassment, health care and lack of jobs were among the most concerning issues for respondents.
In addition to important findings on harassment, health and safety, the commission concludes that one of the best way to address these issues would be the creation of a central facility to provide needed services to Seattle’s LGBTQ communities:
The City of Seattle should work with LGBTQ businesses and organizations to develop a LGBTQ Center that could supply career information for the LGBTQ community, provide a safe space for youth, and deliver informational resources to visitors and residents of Seattle. Many of the problems identified in the survey could be resolved through the creation of a center. Services and programs that could be housed at an LGBTQ Center could include a safe space for youth, social and educational programs for seniors, provision of basic mental and physical health services, etc.
The report does not spell out why the community center should be on Capitol Hill though it does refer to the Hill as “the center of LGBTQ life in the city” while noting that respondents from across Seattle participated in the survey:
LGBTQ individuals reside everywhere in the city, not just on Capitol Hill. During qualitative data gathering, older respondents noted the importance of transportation and its impact on their ability to access services and programs. Many LGBTQ organizations are located on Capitol Hill, but seniors can face difficulty getting to these locations.
The predominance of survey respondents also reside in central Seattle centered around the Pike/Pine area of Capitol Hill (see map below). CHS covered the launch of the survey last summer.
One Capitol Hill project might already address some of the needs outlined. The in-the-works Queer Youth Space would likely fulfill some of these desired functions. Three Wings received a $100,000 grant from the Department of Neighborhoods last year to get QYS going.
But another on the horizon might also give some shape to the recommendations. Last October, CHS reported on Gay TOD: A vision for an LGBT center in Capitol Hill light rail station development — a push by some including Louise Chernin, executive director of the Greater Seattle Business Association, to create a “dedicated space for the LGBT community” as part of the Broadway light rail station. City Hall this summer has been working with Sound Transit to hammer out a development agreement for the light rail property.
The Snapshot Seattle survey came about after a 2008 roundtable with then-mayor Greg Nickels, according to the report. It became clear to the Commission that despite a lot of anecdotal evidence about problems facing the LGBTQ community, without more data it would be hard to have a clear grasp on the most important issues.
You can view the roster of commission members here.
The survey was largely completed online, so there is, of course, that selection bias in the results (see the document posted below for a breakdown of respondent demographics). As might be expected, a large number of the 1,600 responses came from people living on the Hill. As we reported earlier this month, the Hill remains the neighborhood with the highest concentration of gay couples, according to 2010 Census data.
After compiling the data, the report made a series of recommendations to the city. Here are the top five:
1. Support for an LGBT Community Center in Capitol Hill
2. Support for transgender individuals to achieve financial self-sufficiency through stable employment in jobs providing a living wage and benefits, with opportunities for advancement.
3. Fund LGBT homeless youth specific services
4. Fund LGBT specific senior programs
5. Re-Evaluation of public safety to encourage reporting of harassment and discrimination
Harassment and violence are still significant, yet underreported, problems. Many respondents said they had been harassed or attacked because of their sexual orientation, but few people reported the incidents:
a question that asked about discrimination or harassment, found that 58% of respondents indicated that they had experienced such an incident in the past seven years. The survey also found that violent incidents are grossly underreported. 89% of people did not report the harassment or discrimination that did occur.”
However, the majority of respondents said they feel safe in the city:
Among respondents, seniors, youth, people of color and transgender people were found to face greater challenges. To help address issues specific to transgender people, the report recommends implementing a program similar to San Francisco’s Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative, which helps transgender people find work despite rampant employment discrimination.
Here’s the full report: