What Is Success? How Is Progress Measured?
by Belinda Dronkers-Laureta on May 11th, 2016

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

August 31, 2012

What Is Success? How Is Progress Measured?


How do you measure progress in the campaign to end homophobia? Do you count the number of laws passed that prohibit discrimination against LGBT people? The number of rights gained? Should we weigh laws and rights by their importance? Is the right to marry worth three statutes against discrimination? We believe that a legal framework is an absolutely necessary but ultimately insufficient tool to gain social justice. Passing a law is a small first step, but then comes making it real. Laws must be implemented and implementation in this case requires a willingness to spend treasure and effort to affect profound cultural changes.

Why Worry About Measurements?

We ask ourselves this question—about what to measure—so that we can track how effective we really are and to find and concentrate on those initiatives that appear to work best. To change the world one person at a time is a nice sound bite, but is silly; besides, it is now so over-used as to be annoying. It is more effective to find what Malcolm Gladwell calls a “tipping point” and cause a chain reaction.

Are Schools Safer Than Before?

In our last blog we noted that schools are still not a safe place for LGBT students to learn. Are schools safer than before? Maybe, but that is scant encouragement for the many teenagers still harassed and bullied. Were schools ever a safe place for those who are “different?” Should we, in order to make it safe for LGBT students, devise interventions that make it safe for all protected characteristics (sex, ethnicity, race, national origin, religion, color, and disability)? If so, does it make sense to measure progress for just LGBT students? Or is being LGBT sufficiently different from the other protected classes that it should have its own interventions and measurements for progress.

Is Corporate America A Safe Place For LGBT People?

At the other end of the spectrum from high schools, corporate America is also not a safe place for LGBT people. In a July 25 article, the Wall Street Journal reported “there isn’t a single openly gay chief executive officer in the Fortune 1000.” Human Rights Deputy Director Deena Fidas is quoted: “Being gay in the corporate world is still far from being a ‘nonissue.‘ Companies can still legally fire a worker for being gay in 29 states, for one, and many subtle biases remain in the workplace.” A diversity consultant claims that he knows at least ten closeted gay CEOs.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, a non-profit from San Francisco with a vision to create “workplace equality for all inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities, expressions, and characteristics,” is working this issue. The path toward their existence, which is on their website, is an indicator that they might just be effective in creating that safe workplace.

Until We Really Know What Works, Try Things We Think Will Work

We don’t know what works best because we don’t know how to measure what works best. We do know the end point, namely: success is when America’s prevailing conversation no longer includes derogatory content against LGBT people. Until we know how to get there, let’s keep trying whatever idea comes to mind, apply it to whatever societal segment we are concerned about, and make it happen.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org

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