GLBT Think Tank and Research Network Formed at Creating Change

Representatives of gay and lesbian think tanks and research directors of key organizations met on November 13th at the 12th annual National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) Creating Change Conference to initiate a network of GLBT researchers working on policy issues affecting GLBT people. The new GLBT Research Network will coordinate the work of the major academic and activist think tanks and the research departments of GLBT organizations and allied groups.

The think tank and research meeting was organized by the NGLTF Policy Institute in cooperation with the University of California, Santa Barbara-based Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military. The meeting brought together about a dozen researchers, including:

  • Lee Badgett, Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • Aaron Belkin, Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, University of California-Santa Barbara
  • Judy Bradford, Lesbian Health Research Institute and Center for GLBT Health, Columbia University School of Public Health
  • Urvashi Vaid and Sean Cahill, Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, New York, the largest non-academic GLBT think tank in the US

Also participating in the meeting were researchers with various other organizations, including:

  • Ernest Hopkins, San Francisco AIDS Foundation
  • Jonathan Katz, City College of San Francisco, Dept. of Queer Studies and Harvey Milk Institute
  • Jon Knowles, Director of Public Information, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  • Kim Mills, Director of Education, Human Rights Campaign
  • Chris Oliver, Lesbian and Gay Foundation and University of London
  • Kim Singh, Asian American Public Policy Institute, Palo Alto, CA
  • Kathleen Stine, Seattle Commission for Sexual Minorities and co-founder of a northwest regional GLBT think tank

Also invited but unable to attend were representatives from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) at the City University of New York, and the ONE Institute at the University of Southern California. Other attendees included Katherine Pease of the Gill Foundation.

The meeting was aimed at fostering cooperation among GLBT think tanks and research departments of gay and progressive organizations which are operating in a context of limited resources and significant need for research to advance the understanding and equality of GLBT people. Topics discussed included current research projects, funding, and methodological issues.

Participants discussed a number of possible next steps, including: creating a GLBT think tank list serve and linking institutional websites to foster more efficient communication and research; establishing a collaborative research agenda; gathering policymakers and researchers to determine what research is of greatest importance in advancing pro-GLBT public policy; organizing a conference on research methodologies to examine the merits and limitations of quantitative and qualitative research methods in studying GLBT people and issues; and developing a strategy to increase government funding of GLBT-oriented research. The network also hopes to institutionalize and expand itself in the near future.

For more information, call Sean Cahill, Research and Policy Director at the NGLTF Policy Institute, at (212) 604-9830, x17.

Sean Cahill
NGLTF Policy Institute