Do The Right Thing

24 maart 2015

A wealth of methods and approaches has been developed aimed at building a society in which LGBT – lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender – people can live their lives just like other people. With the project Do the Right Thing, Movisie will study how these interventions work: what could be done better than it is being done now? Do the Right Thing received funding from the European Commission Progress programme to help carry out this study.

The eventual objective of the study is to develop interventions that are founded on scientific knowledge. An intervention will probably be used more often when it is known to really work. It will also be easier to promote and to fund its usage. Various approaches are currently being applied: theatre, film, sharing of knowledge, discussion, information by LGBT people themselves, or peer education. But there are lots of questions regarding these approaches. What can research tell us about the use of interactive theatre? Is the assumption correct that one becomes more LGBT-friendly when one is better acquainted with LGBT people? Under what conditions does peer education work? And what can we learn about the implementation of an approach? The focus here is on interventions that are not targeted exclusively at the LGBT population, for we are looking for interventions that aim to promote acceptance and non-discrimination of LGBTs.

We have an English factsheet available containing the main conclusions.

Download factsheet

Social acceptance

Although social acceptance of LGBTs has increased in the Netherlands in recent years, LGBTs still feel that it is not always safe to be themselves always and everywhere – in the family, in school, at work, during sports, in the neighbourhood and on the street. They are victims of criminality and discrimination more often. Most Dutch people think that gay, bisexual and transgender people should be able to lead their lives any way they want to, but at the same time they are often ambivalent or negative when it comes to public demonstrations of homosexuality or divergence from stereotypical images of masculinity and femininity. Especially the attitudes of young people, ethnic minority people and orthodox religious communities are clearly more negative than those of other Dutch people. There are frequent incidents in communities where LGBT neighbours are being harassed and chased away. These occurrences contribute to minority stress and a sense of unsafety in these groups.

Main objectives

There are multiple projects aimed at increasing the acceptance of LGBTs, however they are seldom founded in scientific knowledge. Usually they are based on experiential knowledge, common sense and intuitive notions. There is nothing wrong with this kind of knowledge, but the actual effect, if any, is unclear. Moreover, projects can also elicit unwanted side effects. One reason for this lack of knowledge is that it is not easy – albeit not impossible – to evaluate the effects of interventions in the social field. It is often assumed that it calls for an experimental design, with participants randomly distributed over an experimental group and a control group, and measurements before and after. However, there are easier methods which offer reliable insights in the effects of interventions. One good example is the ‘theory based’ or ‘realistic evaluation’ (Pawson & Tilley 1997). This kind of evaluation questions the plausibility of the occurrence of the desired effects. The mainly implicit presuppositions are analysed. What are the underlying notions and theories on which the intervention is based? Is there any scientific research available, in the Netherlands or abroad, to support the effectiveness of the interventions?


The results of this study will increase the knowledge regarding effective approaches to combat discrimination of LGBTs. Based on these results we can offer an insight in what will and what will not lead to the desired results and formulate recommendations for choices to be made and concrete approaches. This knowledge will be translated into a tool that will help practitioners to make well-informed choices in favour of specific interventions and to strengthen their interventions aimed at non-discrimination.

Timeline and steps

The project distinguishes six steps to achieve its aims:

  1. An inventory of interventions aimed at increasing acceptance of LGBTs and decreasing this group’s discrimination.
  2. An inventory and categorisation of the various forms in which LGBT interventions come
  3. Naming and reconstructing intervention theories, with the help of the intervention developers
  4. Collecting scientific materials
  5. Conclusion and assessment of intervention theories
  6. Translation of findings into consequences for research and for intervention developers, and design of a practical tool for future use.

The project started in july 2014 and will be concluded by the end of 2015. The results will be made available to intervention developers and other interested parties in the Netherlands and abroad. Interested? Please contact: Hanneke Felten.

Photo: Daan Stringer