Sociology Study Examines Needs of LGBT+ Communities in Texas
Dr. Kara Sutton (left) and Dr. Richard Scotch are conducting the needs assessment for Texas Pride Impact Funds, a Houston-based nonprofit.
Sociologists in UT Dallas’ School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences are conducting an in-depth study to identify the needs and concerns of LGBT+ communities across the state.
Dr. Richard Scotch, professor of sociology, and Dr. Kara Sutton, a sociology lecturer, were selected to conduct the needs assessment for Texas Pride Impact Funds, a Houston-based nonprofit that supports organizations and projects serving LGBT+ communities throughout the state.
“Our research will help them see what needs are being well met and to identify areas that are still lacking,” said Scotch, who has previously worked on needs assessments for organizations including United Way.
The project is the first comprehensive LBGT+ needs assessment in Texas, said Roger Wedell, who serves on the board of directors of Texas Pride Impact Funds. The study will examine the needs of various populations within the LGBT+ community, including minorities, residents of rural communities, seniors, youth and transgender residents. The research, which will include surveys and focus groups, is expected to be completed in September.
The project also provides an opportunity for UT Dallas students to gain social science research experience. Scotch and Sutton are working with students who are helping review what data already exists on the needs of the LGBT+ community.
“It’s a great experience for students because this is research that people will be using,” Sutton said.
“This is a chance for me to do something that can effect positive change.”
Colton Hattersley, a sociology senior and Terry Scholar assisting with the research, said the project has personal meaning for him because he is gay. He said the study fits with his career goal of becoming a lawyer and working on civil rights issues.
“It’s awesome that I can apply some of the stuff I’ve been learning and do something impactful,” Hattersley said. “This project is special to me both from an academic and personal perspective. This is a chance for me to do something that can effect positive change. This is a really unique and timely project and hopefully it will lead to more opportunities for future students.”
Wedell said the foundation plans to use the information to cultivate investment from donors and identify priorities in grant making. The foundation plans to share the final report at a series of meetings across the state.
Wedell said the board, which solicited bids for the project, selected the UT Dallas researchers because of their experience working with LGBT+ organizations and with community assessments.
“We also liked their approach of including graduate students in the project,” Wedell said. “From our perspective, this broadens the base of researchers familiar with LGBT+ organizations and issues facing our communities.”
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