A look forward—and back—as we mark Pride Month

A look forward—and back—as we mark Pride Month
Jun 30, 2020
Working to improve the lives of those who identify as LGBTQ

“To me, Pride Month is an opportunity to recognize how far the LGBTQ community has come since I came out,” starts Mike Torpy, who leads ICF’s child welfare portfolio. “But it’s also a time to assess and reflect on how far we as a community still have to go.”

Mike works to improve the lives of children and families—in particular, youth in foster care or who are homeless. “Many of these youth, considered at-risk, identify as LGBTQ. It’s both humbling and satisfying to know our work ultimately helps those youth and those professionals who serve them.”

Michelle Segall agrees. She’s a health scientist who contributes to many of ICF’s sexual health projects for our Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) client, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “I prioritize being an ally to the LGBTQ community with an intersectional lens. Pride Month is another opportunity to emphasize the importance of advocacy for people with marginalized identities.”

Making legal gender recognition accessible to transgender people and removing intrusive medical requirements is fundamental to allowing them to live with dignity.
Michelle Segall at Pride parade

Our work to minimize health disparities

Mike and Michelle are only two of the many ICF employees who work, each day, to improve the lives of those who identify as LGBTQ—and their allies. There’s the study we recently completed for the European Commission that examines the social position of transgender people across Europe—and current processes to allow people to change their legal gender markers in official records. Our Europe Policy team spoke with over 1,000 transgender people living across the EU about their experiences and outlooks. And the results will provide opportunities for transgender people themselves to contribute directly to policy change.

There’s the groundbreaking survey—the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS)-Trans—that focuses on HIV transgender women, adding this important population to the NHBS which historically only targeted men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, and other groups at increased risk for HIV. The inclusion of trans people in large-scale federal surveys such as the NHBS will advance understanding and improve future efforts to connect with trans populations and other hard-to-reach groups.

And a CDC DASH project centered on transgender youth and their parents/guardians, to help our client understand the needs of non-binary and transgender youth. In this collaborative project with DASH investigators, we conducted in-person interviews with non-binary and transgender youth and their parents/caregivers to better understand their school experiences and sexual education. Additional work ICF has done for CDC DASH has, in part, focused on adolescent sexual minorities.

We also provide ongoing maintenance, technical support, and program support to HIV.gov—notably transforming HIV.gov into the federal government’s first mobile-friendly site. The site reaches 25,000 people per day and more than half of those visitors navigate the site via mobile device.

We conduct the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the largest ongoing public health surveillance survey in the U.S., also for the CDC. Each year, we survey millions of Americans on their health behaviors, as they relate to sexual orientation and gender identity—among other factors.

And we’re in the process of completing a community needs assessment for the Transgender Law Center. Looking at three metropolitan areas, we’ve already conducted community-based surveys and local focus groups with transgender persons. Now we’re working on data summaries for deeper site analyses.

“Reading LGBTQ history has taught me the importance of persistence and fighting for what’s right. I make every attempt to bring these values to my work,” says ICF employee Blake Riley, a health sciences analyst.

The work we still have to do

That’s far from a complete list of client work we’ve done—or are in the process of doing—to support the LGBTQ community worldwide. It’s also not a complete list of all we, as a company, have done or need to do. 

Pride began as a protest, a sentiment that is as important now as it was 51 years ago at Stonewall. As a company and as people, we prize equality, opportunity, and respect. We stand side-by-side with our LGBTQ colleagues in the pursuit for human rights and inclusivity, and recognize the work we need to do to promote social justice for all.

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