The Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact all of us, and it has highlighted the many ways that our systems and institutions are unable to support the multifaceted needs of our communities. Among other wake-up calls, this pandemic is a reminder to our Pride Center of Vermont staff and board of the need for flexibility, nimbleness, and compassionate care.
Though we have long been in discussion about the need to create a strategic plan to re-envision our Center and services, this global pandemic provided us with the push that we needed. As you may remember, we released a Community Needs Assessment last September to investigate the gaps between community needs and programs/services we currently offer. By generously sharing your lived experiences and vision for an LGBTQ+ affirming Vermont, you gave us the tools we need to advance our collective rights and build the foundation for a thriving and sustainable future.
Our Community Needs Assessment (CNA)was available for comment and submissions from September to mid-October. It allowed us the opportunity to hear from LGBTQ+ people from across Vermont, with at least one submission coming from each county. The assessment was primarily accessible via internet survey, with an additional option for community members to respond via phone. We have robust information based on age, gender identity, ability/disability status, and location, but lacked comprehensive information on race/ethnicity or sexual orientation. Regarding sexual orientation, we learned that our future surveys need to delineate specific sexual identities rather than grouping based on ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, and/or queer’ or ‘straight’. As for race/ethnicity data, we find a learning opportunity within the data we both do and do not have access to. Moving forward, our outreach, collaboration, and focus must be representative of the communities we serve; our upcoming strategic plan will address the lack of racial and ethnic representation in our assessment results, programming, and leadership.
Below you will find our highlights from the Community Needs Assessment:
- A majority of respondents shared that they feel valued by Pride Center Vermont, and upon further analysis we found that older LGBTQ+ community members feel less valued compared to other demographic factors. This theme continued as we examined our ability to learn from, relate to, and engage with the breadth and depth of our community. Additionally, transgender women also expressed disagreement with our ability to learn, relate, and engage.
- A majority of respondents see themselves reflected in Pride Center’s programs, groups, events, and services; but again, older LGBTQ+ community members as well as those aged 30-39 tended to disagree.
- We continue to receive feedback on the impact of our physical location being in Burlington / Chittenden County and how this negatively impacts the accessibility of our programs, groups, and events statewide (or outside of Chittenden County).
- As we adapt to the ever-changing Covid-19 pandemic, we learned that our community has a strong preference for hybrid model programming and events. This includes continuing to require masking at indoor events to promote accessibility and safety for all participants, regardless of vaccination status.
- A majority of respondents shared that they are having the most barriers accessing the social supports that they need to thrive; followed closely by community members not experiencing barriers to the services and supports that they need. Overall, 30-39 year olds expressed the greatest need for help overcoming barriers out of any of the age groups, though 18-24 year olds also presented a statistically significant need. In addition, transgender women experience the most significant barriers out of any of the genders identified with a statistically high proportion in 7 out of the 16 total barriers listed in the assessment.
- As we move into more online and hybrid programming, we learned that time is the most prominent and important issue to be addressed out of any of the virtual barriers.
- We all love the Pride Parade and Festival and should expect even more participation in years to come. You also shared that the events that you enjoy most are: social events, outdoor / recreational activities, potlucks, and our Town Hall series. We even expect to see growth in our outdoor / recreational activities and potlucks!
At Pride Center of Vermont, we know that this CNA is just the beginning of our work. We will continue to work with our community, partners, and stakeholders as we develop our strategic plan (to be released later this year). If you would like to be involved in this process please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.