The Shield

New project puts LGBT community on map

Damien Burge

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A new initiative has been created to help members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community find businesses and resources in the Evansville area that provide equal opportunities.

The community asset map seeks to provide existing resources, areas of inclusivity and possible opportunities for social development.

“I joined the project because I want the people that are important to me to have the same resources and opportunities that I do,” said Crystal Steltenpohl, a USI alumni. Steltenpohl has returned to the area to help develop the map.

The map will help people find health care providers and businesses that have been allies of the LGBT community. It will also provide information on equal opportunity employers for job placement.

The map isn’t for businesses that offer exclusive service to the LGBT community, but for all businesses that show fairness and equal treatment. The goal is to increase the overall health, well-being and quality of life for the LGBT community.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Amie McKibban has been doing LGBT outreach projects for the past five years.

McKibban said she’s wanted to create the map for a few years, but wasn’t sure if Evansville was ready. Over the years she found groups that supported the idea, and now she believes it’s the right time.

“The LGBT community is absolutely growing. It’s surprising to see how invisible it still is, but it’s a large community,” McKibban said. “There is currently no good avenue for people to reach out to in the LGBT community as a whole until this map gets launched.”

The project has gained a number of supporters, including Youth Resources of Evansville, Lampion Center, the USI Center for Social Justice Education, the Vanderburgh Community Foundation, the Tri-State Safe Zone Initiative, Echo Community Health Care, Gender Warriors and the TRI-State Alliance, among others.

“We wanted to find good organizations that would stand behind the project,” McKibban said.

One of the biggest problems was making the LGBT community aware of these resources, she said.

Businesses and locations that want to be added to the list must first take an assessment to see how they are helping or provide service to the LGBT community.

During the project, about 500 businesses were contacted. Currently, 20 businesses have completed the assessment and are awaiting approval.

Anyone can take the assessment and shouldn’t be discouraged if some of the questions don’t apply to their business, McKibban said.

The assessment can be taken online at mapofevansville.com and information about the partners and the project can also be found there.

The project receives grant support from the College of Liberal Arts through the Liberal Arts Faculty Development Awards, and from the Office of Outreach and Engagement through their Applied Research Summer Fellowship.

The grant the group received was non-renewable. The group hopes that they can find other grants outside the university to help fund the project and keep it going.

The map is set to launch online at the beginning of next month. There will be a PDF version available as well.

USI students who want to connect with the LGBT community can reach out to the Students Advocating for Equality group on campus.

The Counseling Center also provides assistance for USI students who are part of the LGBT community.

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University of Southern Indiana's student publication
New project puts LGBT community on map