Survey gives Officials better picture of Idaho’s LGBT Population


The next time a survey taker calls your home you might want to answer the phone. That’s because health officials are relying on what’s called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey to get a better grasp on of the health of a state’s population.  Here in Idaho, that includes those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

According to JamieLou Delavan, who heads up Idaho’s Bureau of Community & Environmental Health, Idaho’s survey began to include questions on gender identity and sexual orientation in 2011.

According to the CDC, “the survey is the world’s largest, on-going telephone health survey system, tracking health conditions and risk behaviors in the United States yearly since 1984. Currently, data is collected monthly in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.”

Delvan says the inclusion of questions concerning Idaho’s LGBT population is a pretty important milestone,”Every state conducts this survey but not every state asks gender identity in an expanded way or asks sexual orientation.  Some states are kind of surprised that we now include this in Idaho.”

Conducted throughout the year, states use the data to identify emerging health problems, establish and track health objectives, and develop and evaluate public health policies and programs. Many states also use the data to support health-related legislative efforts.

Getting anyone to participate in a phone survey can be challenging, especially in today’s environment of endless robocalls and telemarketing campaigns, but in rural conservative states like Idaho asking LGBT individuals to identify themselves as such can prove to be even tougher.

But the good news is those who participate in the survey do so confidentially and anonymously. Devlin says the information regarding one’s sexuality or gender identity is only used to give health officials a better idea of what’s happening health wise within a state’s population or community.

Data collected from those who identified as LGBT during last year’s survey helped to confirm several aspects of the community’s overall health picture.

Officials are hoping for even more participation this year.

Delvan says more participation in the survey by those who identify themselves as LGBT can mean more funding, more programs and better health care for Idaho’s LGBT population.

Click HERE to see Idaho stats from last year’s survey.

Click HERE to learn more about the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey program.

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