Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tolerance indicators

In this post I discussed some of the available data to support indicators around the demographics and quality-of-life aspects of the gay. lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) population in the community. Besides Census information, which is inadequate at best, there's not much to go on, and national estimates don't work at the community level because what is available suggests concentrated populations in a relatively few cities, likely due to the differences in perceived tolerance levels in communities.

A different way of measuring tolerance towards the GLBT community might be through attitude and perception surveys of the general population. The Gallup organization has been polling Americans about these issues since at least 1977, and some interesting trends are available for comparison in local communities.

At we find some interesting trends tucked behind the question of a constitutional amendment defining marriage. Trendlines are available for questions like:

  • Do you think homosexual relations between consenting adults should or should not be legal? (In the 1980's, 57% surveyed said illegal; in 2006, 56% said legal)
  • In general, do you think homosexuals should or should not have equal rights in terms of job opportunities? (In 1977, 56% were in favor of equal rights; in 2006, the number was 89%)
  • Do you feel that homosexuality should be an acceptable lifestyle or not? (In 1992, 57% said not; in 2006, 54% said yes, acceptable)
  • Would you like to see homosexuality be more widely accepted in this nation, less widely accepted, or is the acceptance of homosexuality in this nation today about right?
  • In your view, is homosexuality – [ROTATED: something a person is born with, (or is homosexuality) due to factors such as upbringing and environment]? (1977 -- 13% born with; 2006, 42% born with)

There are more questions and interesting data sets available from Gallup. But they're not the only ones with data sets and survey questions that might prove useful to a local community trying to understand indicators of tolerance beyond Richard Florida's Gay Index. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life provides other survey information and analysis, including a question about whether acceptance of homosexuality would be good for the country or bad for the country. That's an interesting question to adapt to the community level.

The Pew Research Center on People and the Press is also asking interesting questions. Here they analyze attitudes towards homosexuality in the arenas of marriage, military service, and adoption.

In a different approach, the Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed the homosexual community and the larger public to examine issues of acceptance and discrimination. The 2001 study, Inside-OUT: A Report on the Experiences of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals in America and the Public’s Views on Issues and Policies Related to Sexual Orientation (PDF file), provides a perspective and an opportunity for local communities to measure tolerance differently.

What other survey questions do you know of (or would you suggest) to explore questions of tolerance in a community?

1 comment:

  1. Lake, Snell, Perry does polling on attitudes about GLBT people. This document is about youth attitudes.

    Also, this blog refers to research done a year later on Floridians' support for legislation that protects LGBT students from bullying.