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CenterLink E-Summit: Recap

As we continue to take steps to make LGBTQ+ spaces safe in-person, we also need to approach digital spaces with a key understanding of possible risks and how to mitigate those risks for the communities we serve. 

Last Thursday, April 18th, LGBT Tech’s Digital Navigator, Arin Rook, and Program Coordinator, Samantha Sygier Cayax, were invited to present at CenterLink’s 2024 E-Summit: Awareness to Action. Our team held a session titled Securing LGBTQ+ Spaces: Strategies for Digital Safety and Cyber Risk Mitigation for LGBTQ+ Centers.

This presentation focused on what digital risks LGBTQ+ centers, organizations and their clients may face, as well as strategies to mitigate digital risks and enhance online safety. They discussed the importance of developing comprehensive digital safety plans, addressing common cyber threats against non profits, and providing practical resources for proactive digital safety planning for LGBTQ+ centers. 

When it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, many find community, resources, safe spaces and more online. As mentioned in our Beyond the Binary research, 80% of LGBTQ+ Americans socialize online and 20% came out online before to family & friends. 

At the same time, 47% of LGBTQ+ individuals have been harassed online in the past 12 months, increasing to 76% if they identify as transgender. For this reason, centers and organizations working with the community should be actively thinking and taking steps on how to make their digital spaces better for the community.

During the session attendees were asked 3 questions regarding their organization/center’s cyber security protocols: “To what extent does your organization/center have documented policies and procedures for responding to a cybersecurity incident, online threat, or data breach?”, “Does your organization/center have a designated staff member responsible for cybersecurity, online safety, and data protection?”, and “How frequently does your organization/center conduct cyber safety and online security training for staff members?”

Out of 38 responses, 53% stated their organization doesn't have any policies or procedures; 69% don’t have a designated staff member responsible for cybersecurity, online safety and data protection; and 44% never and 28% rarely conduct cybersecurity and online safety training with their staff. 

During this presentation, attendees were able to learn about the effect of the digital divide for the LGBTQ+ community, learn terms for common online risks and threats, and how these have real life effects and dangers. Attendees also left the session with actionable steps to strengthen digital safety measures and promote a secure online environment for staff, volunteers, and community members. They also shared a brief preview of the Digital Safety for LGBTQ+ Centers guide we are creating, as well as our new Digital Navigator Program’s upcoming Digital Education and Empowerment Series we will be launching soon to share as a free resource to LGBTQ+ centers and organizations.

The brief document preview can be found here!

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