(COLORADO SPRINGS) – The Community Health Partnership (CHP) is making sure the voices of southern Colorado’s LGBTQ+ community are heard. CHP is launching a survey to collect data on the LGBTQ+ community, in hopes that it will provide insight into what resources the Pikes Peak region is in need of most.

Organizers say the data the county has on the LGBTQ+ community, is non-existent. Which is exactly why CHP decided to launch the El Paso County LGBTQ+ Health Equity Needs Assessment survey, for representation in this community.

“The very first time I came out to anyone, was in an online survey I took when I was 15 and it was like, ‘What’s your sexual orientation?’ and I clicked the box ‘lesbian’ and it was the most empowering moment of my life. Because, I was represented in that survey,” said Liss Smith, Communications & Advocacy Director for Inside Out Youth Services.

Multiple local organizations are collaborating on this survey’s data collection, including Inside Out Youth Services (IOYS), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), One Colorado, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and more.

“Our society doesn’t really collect data on LGBTQ+ folks. We really need a comprehensive picture of what people in this city and in this county and in this region need,” said Smith.

Organizers are encouraging all members of the LGBTQ+ community in the Pikes Peak region that are 18 years old and up to take this survey.

“To me it is kind of similar to voting… This is really an opportunity for the queer community to use their voice and to say these are the things that we’re having difficulties with and knowing that there are organizations in town that are actively pursuing solutions for that,” said Sarah Banta, NAMI Colorado Springs Peer Programs Coordinator.

The anonymous survey takes around 15 minutes to complete, and focuses on topics that impact the health of the LGBTQ+ community. It includes questions about housing, food insecurity, substance use, and mental health.

This data will be evaluated at the end of February. All the organizations involved will delegate which issues they will target based on their respective specialty.

“We’re hoping to figure out where the work is already being done, how we can amplify the work already being done, how we can make sure we’re not overlapping services,” said Smith.

Organizers say this survey was rolled out sooner than planned due to need for support following the Club Q shooting, but also say, regardless of the shooting, disparities have always existed.

“I think, unfortunately, sometimes it takes something catastrophic to happen for a change to ignite. And I think that’s exactly what’s happening here,” said Banta.

The survey is available for the entire month of February and can be found at this link: https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/7119447/LGBTQ-Community-Survey

As of Feb. 13, over 200 people have taken the survey.