Montreal officials want to better understand the needs of the city's LGBTQ+ community and how it can better serve them.
To reach that goal, the city published an extensive online survey on May 17 that can be filled out until Aug. 17.
"It is geared to all individuals who identify as members of these communities," the survey states, telling participants they need about 15 minutes to fill out the questionnaire.
Tabulated by the non-partisan Institut du Nouveau Monde, results will be explored in depth during group discussions in the fall of 2019.
The aim is to adapt the city's support services already in place while looking for ways it can improve or expand those services, said city spokesperson Laurence Houde-Roy.
"For example, should we open a specific community centre, or invest more in some programs? The consultation will allow us to determine what are the relevant actions the city can take to meet current needs," she said.
Several organizations involved in planning survey
A steering committee comprised of city and health officials and local organizations such as the Quebec LGBT Council put the survey together.
LGBT Council executive director Marie-Pier Boisvert praised the initiative. She said there is still much to learn about Montreal's diverse population of residents who identify as LGBTQ+ living across the city.
"I think the city really has the desire to hear and listen to us, whether it is on youth issues or more broadly on the people who use the more direct services," she said.
The next step, Boisvert said, is to promote the survey and get people to participate.
"There are a lot of things in this survey that need the input of the community," she said.
For example, there are safety concerns over gender-specific spaces such as the city's pool changing rooms, Boisvert said, but that the issue has never been studied.
"We also need to talk about the relationship with police," she said.
Police need to be better trained in dealing with the LGBTQ+ community, she said, and "once they are trained, and they do have that sensitivity, there needs to be this reconnect with the community."
Survey fails to include those without internet
GRIS-Montréal is a non-profit organization that works to demystify homosexuality and bisexuality to build a more open society.
Though GRIS-Montréal wasn't involved in planning the survey, its president, Catherine Duclos, said her organization supports the effort. She said it shows Montreal is taking an interest in the LGBTQ+ community and the quality of public services.
"Importantly, this survey is an opportunity to share our priorities with regards to the actions the city should take to improve support and visibility of the LGBTQ+ community," she said.
Survey participants will be able to take part in the discussions this fall. Providing a platform for the community's experiences and opinions to be heard is "a critical first step" toward positive social change, she said.
Duclos hopes the city will follow through on the data collected and be proactive in responding to "our community's needs and preoccupations."
However, the survey should reach beyond those with an internet connection, she said.
"Going forward as this initiative is deployed, it will be important for the city to ensure that this survey reaches the most marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community, and the actors and organizations that directly work with these members of our community," Duclos said.