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Washington to conduct statewide LGBTQ+ survey

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(The Center Square) – Washington state is gearing up for Pride Month and, in doing so, plans to conduct an LGBTQ+ survey for the first time, giving lawmakers a tool to better inform policy decisions regarding the group.

The state’s LGBTQ Commission, created by the Legislature in 2019, will conduct the study with a team of nine representatives, all of whom identify with the community. The survey will begin accepting responses on June 1 and continue through January 2025.

Representatives from Washington State University and two consulting firms intend to use the survey to collect data on residents’ identities, perspectives and experiences. While 100% anonymous, the commission will then reference the findings when making future policy recommendations to the Legislature and governor, according to its website.

“This first-of-its-kind statewide survey aims to understand the characteristics and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the state of Washington,” the commission’s website states. “The research is funded by the Washington LGBTQ Commission and is being designed for LGBTQ+ Washingtonians by LGBTQ+ Washingtonians.”

The state’s $500,000 survey is part of an effort to better support the marginalized group, even as some communities in the state endeavor to do the same amid sometimes challenging circumstances. Earlier this month, vandals defaced a Pride mural in Spokane, causing damages upwards of $15,000, which the community quickly rallied together to raise.

Spokane spent almost $1 million on several Pride murals in 2022, three of which were also defaced in October 2023. Additionally, Yakima’s City Council rejected a proclamation last week that would have declared June as Pride Month, according to reporting from NonStop Local.

Lake Stevens also made headlines last June after similarly rejecting a proclamation there.

Opponents of Pride say the celebration and events push LGBTQ+ perspectives and experiences onto others, in some cases sexualizing and grooming children. Significant opposition has occurred over the past few years, particularly with drag show story times.

The activity involves drag performers reading to young children while commonly wearing suggestive clothing. However, the Associated Press reported that some performers feel it’s the protesters who are harming children, not the event itself.

Despite all the recent controversy, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 5462 this session, which requires public schools to update their curriculum to include LGBTQ history and perspectives, according to prior reporting from The Center Square. SB 5462 goes into effect on June 6.

The Legislature also passed Initiative 2081, also known as the “parents’ bill of rights.”

The measure requires that a child’s textbooks, curriculum and medical records are readily available for their parents, allowing them to opt out of assignments related to students’ sexual experiences or their family’s religious and political beliefs.

“You may not be aware that members of the [Washington State] LGBTQ Commission are advocates for legalizing sex work, and [SB 5462] requires them to collaborate with OSPI to set histories, perspectives, etc.,” concerned citizen Gabriel Jacobs said during a public hearing in February. “We should not be writing legislation that mandate that those who advocate for legalized sex work consult with OSPI on kindergarten education criteria.”

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