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Calgarians want queer community centre: report

It's a "long-term goal," says Outlink president

Calgary needs a centre that provides services and programs to its queer community, according to the results of a new survey by Calgary Outlink.

The study, conducted by the Centre for Social Work and Research Development on behalf of Calgary Outlink, surveyed 230 members of Calgary’s queer community to find out if their service needs are being met.

Of those surveyed, 74 per cent said that being connected to the queer community is an important part of their identity. But the survey identified a gap in services.

Ninety per cent of respondents said that Calgary’s queer community needs a centre of its own.

While the queer community has come a long way, negative attitudes remain, said Jessica Ayala, a professor of social work at the University of Calgary and author of the report.

“There is still prejudice, there is still discrimination, there is still violence, and all of these create a chronic stress for people,” she said.

Researchers also surveyed 22 service providers that offer a range of programs and services to the queer community. According to the service providers, members of the queer community still face barriers, including a fear of violence and discrimination, when accessing mainstream services.

The report states that a centre could help provide a safe space and consistent programming for members of the queer community, increase collaboration between mainstream services and queer services, and assist mainstream agencies, such as doctor’s offices, with explicitly identifying as safe spaces for queer clients.

Participants also called for more culturally sensitive programs for minority groups within the queer community and more support services for queer youth and trans people.

“This study provides Calgary Outlink with a new and informed vision of what LGBT communities need in terms of program support,” said Melissa Luhtanen, president of Calgary Outlink.

Luhtanen said Calgary Outlink will re-evaluate its services and work in collaboration with other organizations to meet these needs. And while a community centre is something that Calgary Outlink is considering, Luhtanen said it’s a long-term goal.

“The community needs to have a lot more stability, I think, and support, because it’s going to take a really large coming together of all communities to sustain a centre,” she said.

To view the survey results, visit
Calgary Outlink.