In an effort to provide affirming services to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer/questioning) communities involved with Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services (DHS), the first Department-wide LGBTQ work group began in 2009. At that time, sexual orientation and gender identity were not frequently discussed as part of DHS practice. By 2016, DHS had made great strides in affirming LGBTQ communities. Work within DHS and with community partners led to written practice guidance related to gender and sexuality, improved understanding of bias in the workplace, the creation of an LGBTQ advisory council, and improved data collection related to gender and sexuality.
This report shares DHS’s experiences from 2009 through 2016 as it worked to better understand and serve the LGBTQ communities of Allegheny County. We share our strategies, challenges and lessons learned with the hope that others can learn from them.