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WSU to Lead WA State’s First Comprehensive LGBTQ Survey


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WSU to Lead WA State’s First Comprehensive LGBTQ Survey


News Story by Cassy Benefield | FāVS News


A team led by Washington State University researcher Traci Gillig has been awarded $500,000 by the Washington State LGBTQ Commission to conduct a survey of the state’s LGBTQ community.

While some national surveys include Washington LGBTQ data, this will be the first to focus solely on the state.

Traci Gillig
Traci Gillig, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, WSU Department of Strategic Communication / Contributed

“For this project, we’re aiming to gain a broad understanding of who in WA is LGBTQ+, where they live, and what their experiences are with a range of issues,” said Gillig who is also a WSU assistant professor at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

In the project’s first phase, the team will work with the commission to further develop the survey questions. Data collection should begin in 2024 with results planned for delivery by mid-2025.

Research collected will focus on LGBTQ demographics and geographical dispersion, religious affiliations, economic opportunities, health and safety concerns and more.

Washington Policymakers Desire a LGBTQ-Friendly State


Washington State is one of 15 states in the U.S. that has a high score for LGBTQ-related policies. Still, the commission wanted to help the state do even better for its LGBTQ population. They thought the best way to do that was through more information.

The Commission sent out an open request for proposals to any interested institution throughout the state. The WSU proposal was selected, with Gillig, who identifies as queer, leading the work as principal researcher.

J. Manny Santiago
J. Manny Santiago, Executive Director, WA State LGBTQ Commission / Contributed

“I am glad that we can partner with a Washington-based organization, and with members of our own community, to conduct this survey and to understand our 2SLGBTQIA community better,” said J. Manny Santiago, executive director of the commission.

The commission chose Gillig’s research team, which includes seven members with one more coming on this summer, because they believe they will help them reach their goal of making informed policy recommendations, Santiago said.

“The WA State LGBTQ Commission’s role is to provide policy recommendations to the governor, the executive branch agencies and the Legislature on issues that impact the 2SLGBTQIA community in Washington,” Santiago said. “It is imperative to have good data to understand the community and thus, have informed policy solutions to the many challenges our community faces in the state.”

Including All Voices


The study team brings a combined depth and breadth of experience working with LGBTQ+ people, including those who are from underrepresented groups and who live in rural areas.

They plan to recruit participants at local Pride events across the state and through outreach to local organizations as well as via online forms and social media.

For the religious portion of the survey, the research team will conduct outreach to communities of faith and faith leaders to reach people of a diverse range of religious backgrounds.

“We know that some groups of LGBTQ+ people will be harder to reach than others, and we’ve brought together a team of LGBTQ+ people from diverse backgrounds who have connections to LGBTQ+ communities throughout the state,” Gillig said in a WSU press release.

Gillig hopes to use the data to inform further research and to better understand the experiences of LGBTQ people across the state.

“We are trying to really dig into the challenges that people are facing and the things that might be preventing them from having the same opportunities and healthy and safe lives as others,” Gillig said in a WSU press release. “We want to hear from everyone. This is a great way to have your voice heard.”

Cassy Benefield
Cassy Benefield
Cassy (pronounced like Cassie but spelled with a 'y') Benefield is a wife and mother, a writer and photographer and a huge fan of non-fiction. She has traveled all her life, first as an Army brat. She is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (2004-2006) to Romania where she mainly taught Conversational English. She received her bachelor’s in journalism from Cal Poly Technical University in San Luis Obispo, California. She finds much comfort in her Savior, Jesus Christ, and considers herself a religion nerd who is prone to buy more books, on nearly any topic, than she is ever able to read. She is the associate editor of FāVS.News.


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