Community Collaborations

Making significant changes to organizational policies and practices can be a challenge. Moving beyond our organizations to transform structural barriers, such as the biases of law enforcement, courts, child protective services, and hospitals, often feels outside of our purview. However, these are critical concerns for a victim service sector interested in genuinely improving responses to LGBTQ people who have experienced harm.

Community collaborations engage multiple organizations and groups to help build the momentum, visibility, and collective power needed to effect policy change and address structural barriers. This may involve bringing together a new alliance or raising the concerns of LGBTQ people in existing coalitions or network settings.  In focusing a new effort on LGBTQ communities, providers should make intentional and thoughtful efforts to build relationships and work in partnership with pre-existing organizations rooted in diverse LGBTQ communities.

Efforts to increase LGBTQ access may support an organization in (re)connecting to broad-based movements for social and economic justice. Such connections may not only increase services providers’ awareness and skill around understanding barriers, but can create more engaged workplaces and help organizations to learn from and build trust with underserved communities more broadly.

The opportunities for creative and meaningful community collaborations are endless. Below are just a few examples from the LGBTQ Access Project in King County, Washington, including information about how each project was developed.  If you have been involved with an exemplary community collaboration and would like to share your model, we’d look forward to hearing from you.

  • Trans Resource Guide working group – Trans people experience steep barriers when navigating institutions and humans service systems.  The 2014 King County Trans* Resource and Referral Guide was envisioned as a social and economic justice project that brought together trans organizers and trans-identified service providers, with the intention of providing a community endorsed referral list. The project expanded to include professional resources and information for services providers. The first 40-page booklet style guide was distributed to hundreds of service organizations and thousands of providers in King County. A second edition is anticipated in 2017.
  • LGBTQ Family Law working group – In addition to creating new collaborative projects, programs can also look to existing networks to engage in LGBTQ issues. The Family Law Working group, hosted by Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence in King County, has been a space for attorneys, legal system workers, and domestic violence advocates to come together to share observations, create tools, and advance policy recommendations for the region. As a part of the LGBTQ Access Project, a sub-group was formed on LGBTQ Family Law. After a series of discussions facing the complex barriers and experiences of LGBTQ survivors of domestic violence in the civil and family law systems, the working group decided to collaboratively create a state-wide information guide for domestic violence advocates and attorneys, Washington State: LGBTQ Family Law for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence. This tool sought to clarify the complex laws as they applied to parenting, relationship recognition, orders of protection, and more, and to offer practical skills for advocates and other systems actors to advocate more effectively on a survivor’s behalf. This tool has since been replicated in other states.