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LGBTQ+ Quality of Life survey reveals more work to be done in Austin

The City of Austin’s LGBTQ+ Quality of Life Commission released its LGBTQIA+ Study Final Report on Friday.

AUSTIN, Texas — Key findings from a City of Austin survey show members of the LGBTQ+ community feel more accepted and safer with family, friends and at work than in public places.

The City of Austin’s LGBTQ+ Quality of Life Commission released its LGBTQIA+ Study Final Report on Friday. It will present the report on Monday, Oct. 11, according to a press release.

The survey found that interviewed participants want more LGBTQ+ community spaces “mindful of people in recovery, queer and transgender people of color, and other marginalized communities” in Austin. 

Queer people of color, youth and transgender/gender-expansive individuals reported a greater percentage of negative interactions with law enforcement. Specifically, 24% for queer people of color, 21% for youth and 35% for transgender/gender-expansive individuals.

Transgender people of color also experience more employment denials and terminations and suicidality, the study found. These individuals also spend more than 50% of their income on housing and worried about money more than the rest of those surveyed.

The survey found 17% of respondents spend at least 50% of their monthly income on housing. Housing was the “highest ranked priority” among participants.   

"LGBTQIA+ communities have been telling us what this survey reaffirms and validates – that we need to apply equity to the broad vision and goals we have for this city in order to be a welcoming city that allows everyone to thrive,” Chief Equity Officer Brion Oaks said. “It is then imperative for the City of Austin to understand how to address these disparities and improve the quality of life of all LGBTQIA+ communities, especially for those who experience the brunt of these inequitable outcomes.”

The LGBTQ+ Quality of Life Commission has been researching the study for five years, since its founding in 2017. It partnered with Health Management Associates, Inc. to administer the survey.

The survey is meant to provide analysis on how the LGBTQ+ experience in Austin can be improved.

Monday, Oct. 11, is National Coming Out Day. The report will be presented at 7 p.m. that day at the City’s Permitting and Development Center. It Is open to the public, but only in person.

The commission will also present the report to the Austin City Council on Oct.  12.

On Oct. 12, Travis County officials unanimously voted to approve the following changes to the Travis County Code and County's practices: 

  1. Amend County’s Affirmative Action Plan for Equal Employment Opportunity to include in the composition of the County’s workforce persons from different sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions (Chapter 112);
  2. Include sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression under the definition of discrimination and harassment (Chapter 109);
  3. Require that applicants for Economic Development Incentives provide County with a written equal employment policy that includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression as protected classes (Chapter 28);
  4. Amend the Affordable and Fair Housing Policy & Procedures to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression in addition to race, ethnicity, and economic status (Chapter 277);
  5. Direct HRMD to offer training to all County employees that focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion such as implicit bias training and LGBTQIA+ inclusivity training; and require this training of Commissioners Court employees and departments;
  6. Direct the County Executives to come up with a plan and timeline to update existing Travis County code with language;
  7. Work with the Purchasing Office to address the options of having certifications and expanding the definition of Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs) to include LGBTQIA+ individuals as qualifying minorities.

“Travis County has the third-largest LGBTQIA+ community in the country,” said Travis County Judge Andy Brown. “We cannot talk about civil rights without including this community in our work. These protections mark a significant step towards creating a county that is more inclusive, fair, and just for all. I’m grateful to the LGBTQIA+ community organizations and advocates who worked closely with my office to make these changes a reality for people across the county.”

“At a time when transgender and non-binary Texans are under attack from state politicians like never before, it is so heartening to see Travis County taking proactive steps to strengthen protections for our entire LGBTQIA+ community,” added Ash Hall, a community leader and non-binary advocate. “These changes are a breath of fresh air. I’m grateful to the County for making our ability to survive and thrive a priority.”

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