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The Alaska UCEDD, at the Center for Human Development, University of Alaska Anchorage, is working to nurture relationships with intersectionally diverse community partners, and research/evaluation stakeholders. A major project in 2015 involved conducting research and evaluation for a large community collaborative. It brought together three main community organizations, and involved training members from at least half a dozen others. The work eventually led to bullying interventions with youth ages 12-24 in Anchorage, the state’s largest urban center. The collaborative now focuses on interrupting bullying as a risk factor for youth mental illness and suicide. Refer to the Anchorage Collaborative Coalitions for more information: https://anchoragecollaborative.org
Our center's research team was responsible for presenting secondary data analyses using infographics, and conducting primary data collection through youth focus groups. As priorities developed, we wanted to make sure diverse stakeholders were setting the research and intervention tables as much as possible. Language is one small way to show respect, and to signal an intention to build relationships with particular communities. The research team centered QUILTBAG2 language in our screening tools, data collection instruments, and recruitment strategies.
Q - Queer/Questioning
U - Unidentified/Undecided
I - Intersex
L - Lesbian
T - Transgender/Transsexual
B - Bisexual
A - Asexual
G - Gay/Genderqueer/Gender Non-Conforming
2 - Two Spirit1
We encouraged research partners from other campus departments to use QUILTBAG2 inclusive demographic questions on attendance sign-ins, surveys, and focus group intake forms, for example:
"I identify as/I am: "I identify as/I am:
o A man o Asexual
o A transgendered man o Bisexual
o A transgendered woman o Gay
o A woman o Heterosexual
o Gender Non-Conforming o Lesbian
o Two Spirit o Queer
o [Blank line] o Undecided
In both of these examples, we listed options alphabetically, rather than decide how to order them based on any particular value system. We chose not to have an “Other” category, but to simply leave an open space for inviting additional kinds of self-identification. We avoided the term “Other” because it is too close to what cultural studies disciplines call “Othering” - the intersectional micro-aggressions and invalidations experienced by people of color, people with disabilities, queer people, etc. At community work group meetings, members from our research team brought up QUILTBAG2 perspectives, for example, drawing attention to historical, social and political reasons there might be data gaps for certain groups, or offering public reminders that there are chosen family structures, in addition to biological and legal ones.
Learning about racial, ethnic, disability, and QUILTBAG2 diversity as we imagine/re-imagine new research and evaluation projects is an ongoing process. Part of this work means acknowledging non-indigenous white, non-disabled, heteronormative, cis, and body size privileges with transparency and humility. It also means intentionally seeking participation from bilingual, bicultural, low-income, Indigenous, and QUILTBAG2 community partners and research stakeholders. Finally, it means working to not overstate the gender and sexuality “diversity” of white non-indigenous professionals within disability networks, while tokenizing racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity.
As we continue educating ourselves and listening in relationship, here are some additional actions our center is taking in regards to diversity:
i. Funded support of intersectionally diverse co-trainers with and without intellectual/developmental disabilities to train Alaskan medical professionals about diversity and inclusion (with funding from the Working for Inclusive and Transformative Healthcare Foundation - formerly Special Hope);
ii. Submitted funding application to create an institutionalized UCEDD Diversity Fellowship in collaboration with Alaska's LEND program;
iii. Plans for providing expert cultural and linguistic competency training to the core Alaska DD Network partners (UCEDD, Governor's Council, Protection & Advocacy);
iv. Plans to pursue future funding through the National Center for Cultural Competence's, "Community of Practice on Cultural and Linguistic Competence in Developmental Disabilities" (Georgetown UCEDD), as well as the Administration for Community Living's, "Diversity and Inclusion Training Action Plan Implementation Grant";
v. Keeping our staff demographics survey updated as a pulse of our racial, ethnic, QUILTBAG2, and of course Disability diversity;
vi. Continue incorporating resources and practices from the AUCD Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit, as well as the "Guide for UCEDD Curricula and Training Activities: Embedding Cultural Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence".
For more information, please connect with:
Rebekah Moras, PhD Disability Studies
AUCD Profile: http://bit.ly/MorasProfile