What Sexual and Gender Minority People Want Researchers to Know About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Questions: A Qualitative Study
Sexual and gender minority (SGM) people—including members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities—are understudied and underrepresented in research. Current sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) questions do not sufficiently engage SGM people, and there is a critical gap in understanding how SOGI questions reduce inclusion and accurate empirical representation. We conducted a qualitative study to answer the question, “For SGM people, what are the major limitations with current SOGI questions?” Focus groups probed reactions to SOGI questions adapted from prior national surveys and clinical best practice guidelines. Questions were refined and presented in semi-structured cognitive interviews. Template analysis using a priori themes guided analysis. There were 74 participants: 55 in nine focus groups and 19 in cognitive interviews. Participants were diverse: 51.3% identified as gender minorities, 87.8% as sexual minorities, 8.1% as Hispanic/Latinx, 13.5% as Black or African-American, and 43.2% as Non-white. Two major themes emerged: (1) SOGI questions did not allow for identity fluidity and complexity, reducing inclusion and representation, and (2) SOGI question stems and answer choices were often not clear as to which SOGI dimension was being assessed. To our knowledge, this represents the largest body of qualitative data studying SGM perspectives when responding to SOGI questions. We present recommendations for future development and use of SOGI measures. Attention to these topics may improve meaningful participation of SGM people in research and implementation of such research within and for SGM communities.