The Goizueta Business School and the LGBTQ Institute at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights will collaborate to research and help address LGBTQ-related issues impacting people living in Southern states for the LGBTQ Institute/Emory Southern Survey 2021 cycle. This will be a second iteration of a similar survey conducted through a partnership between the LGBTQ Institute and Georgia State University in 2018. 

While the initial partnership will last five years, the parties can agree to renew their collaborative efforts for three year terms. 

The first two years of the collaboration will be focused on the survey, a participatory research initiative that will probe Southern LGBTQ people’s experieces in education and employment, criminal justice and safety and public health and well-being. The survey, which launches on June 30, will be sent to LGBTQ individuals living in 14 Southern states. 

The Goizueta Business School (left) and the LGBTQ Institute at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (right). Photos courtesy of Emory University and the LGBTQ Institute

Southern states receive the least funding for research on LGBTQ issues, cultivating a research gap where less is known about the experiences of LGBTQ people in the South compared to LGBTQ people in other regions, Giacomo Negro, Professor of Organization and Management at Goizueta Business School explained. The survey will expand awareness of the experiences of Southern LGBTQ people, particualrly as it relates to their experiences of discrimination and institutional support from employers. 

Negro, who serves as the partnership’s principal investigator, and Executive Director of the LGBTQ Institute Ryan Roemerman are co-directing the 2021 survey. They work alongside Associate Professor of Organization and Management Melissa Williams, Gabrielle Lopiano (21B), who recently defended her PhD dissertation in Organizations and Management, and LGBTQ Institute Fellow Ashlei Rabess.    

“The business school faculty are the academics responsible for the redesign of the survey … to make it more streamlined and more relevant in terms of the questions that we want to ask,” Negro said. “We will support the administration of the survey, but that outreach has been the responsibility of the Institute.” 

The 2018 survey’s findings held implications for fields like health care, education and employment. For example 33% of all respondents reported discrimination when trying to access health care services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, with almost half choosing to avoid treatment. Transgender people were less likely to hold a full-time job but significantly more likely (15.4%) to report being treated unfairly in terms of hiring, compensation or promotion by an employers than their LGB peers (5.4%), the survey also found. 

Given the last survey’s conclusions, Negro said that the 2021 survey will have more specific questions about employment and the support that employees may receive from employee resource groups, as well as a COVID-19 section to understand how the pandemic affected survey participants.  

Using survey data, the partnership will analyze patterns across different life domains, like connecting economic stability with mental health indicators or prior experiences of discrimination with economic achievements.  

Ultimately, the partnership will produce “a series of reports, fact sheets, white papers and research briefs that provide evidence-based policy recommendations to address the needs and challenges LGBTQ people face in the South,” the memorandum of understanding states. The final products will be showcased in a public research symposium and press outreach. 

“This is an important step in becoming more involved and engaged with the LGBTQ population,” Negro said. “I see a broader value of knowing more about LGBTQ people in the South, and that’s something that is a little bit hard to do just based on census level data. The census does record basic information about cohabitating couples, and so same sex couples, but that’s pretty much all we know.”