Queering Social Survey Research – Mind the Data Gap: LGBTIQ+ Inclusion in Social Surveys and the Impact on Policy
October 6 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
The Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO), in collaboration with the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS, and Gender (CSA&G) and Social Impact Insights Africa (SIIA) is launching a four-part online seminar series, running biweekly from 6 October to 17 November 2022, to establish the importance of nuancing the measurement of sex, gender and/or sexuality in social survey research conducted in South Africa.
The seminar series will bring together researchers from various disciplines, official statistics units, government, civil society, activists, and LGBTIQ+ organisations to unpack the value and challenges of using queer lenses in social survey development. With comparative inputs from renowned speakers from South Africa and other countries on the African continent, the seminar series will reflect on survey design in a range of contexts including the policy and advocacy intent of each study; national and institutional social surveying capacity; and varying legal conditions for different expressions of sex, gender, and sexuality.
The themes and dates for all sessions are as follows:
Mind the Data Gap: LGBTIQ+ Inclusion in Social Surveys and the Impact on Policy
06 October 2022, 11:00 – 12:30 SAST (09:00-10:30 UTC)
Capturing the Complexities of the Entire Population: LGBTIQ+ Specificities
20 October 2022, 11:00 – 12:30 SAST (09:00-10:30 UTC)
Collecting Social Data on Sex, Gender and Sexualities: Experiences in Field
03 November 2022, 11:00 – 12:30 SAST (09:00-10:30 UTC)
Research-Policy Interface: Production, Dissemination and Use of LGBTIQ+ Data
17 November 2022, 11:00 – 12:30 SAST (09:00-10:30 UTC)
After decades (indeed centuries) of legal and social discrimination against LGBTIQ+ individuals in South Africa, recent evidence from the GCRO’s Quality of Life Survey (2020/21) shows that attitudes toward LGBTIQ+ individuals are softening over time, with a decreasing proportion of respondents who indicate that violence towards LGBTIQ+ individuals is acceptable. While society is slowly becoming more accepting of LGBTIQ+ individuals in South Africa and identities-as-spectrum are increasingly recognised in the public discourse, most social survey research continues to operate in a binary paradigm.
Although social survey research has the potential to increase the acceptance and inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people in society, the way research is designed and implemented often makes the lived experiences of the LGBTIQ+ population invisible. Quantitative research instruments are structured to ignore the existence of any gender identification other than male/female or man/woman and sexual orientation is rarely if ever measured. Consequently, alternative gender identities and sexual orientation are demographic variables that continue to receive little attention in large-scale social surveys and official statistics. The 2022 Statistics South Africa census continues this practice, which means that LGBTIQ+ individuals will remain a hidden population when it comes to official policy and planning in South Africa.
Recently, researchers globally and in South Africa have turned their attention towards improving and understanding the measurements of sex, gender and sexuality in social survey research. There is a growing recognition that adequate measurement is necessary to ensure that no one is left out when policies are made and resources are allocated based on demographic data. Given the history, and in many contexts also present reality, of discrimination, however, the benefits of increased visibility may also bring with them forms of vulnerability that require particular care in the design and implementation of research. Furthermore, contestation and local variation in defining sexual orientation and gender identities mean that there is no simple alternative to conventional binary sex or gender measures. The seminar series will engage in careful and substantive debate about the balance between recognising and capturing the full variation of experiences and identities, and the practical imperatives of standardised surveying conventions.
Sthembiso Pollen Mkhize, Junior Researcher at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory and leads the Queering Social Survey Research project.
Dr Tara Polzer Ngwato, Experienced surveys designer, Monitoring & Evaluation professional and data storyteller.
Pierre Brouard, Deputy Director of the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender (CSA&G) at the University of Pretoria (UP) and a registered Clinical Psychologist.
For more information or if you are interested in participating as a speaker in one of the seminar sessions, contact:
Sthembiso Pollen Mkhize, GCRO
GCRO Information and Queries