Older LGBT people face challenges that others do not
Town meetings will discuss needed changes in aging policies and services
Nov. 16, 2015
Older LGBT people face the same challenges as all older adults: declining health, diminished income, ageism, the loss of family and friends. But compared to the population at large, LGBT elders often must deal with ignorance and discrimination in the services available to them. That makes them among the most invisible, stigmatized, under-served and at-risk populations in the country.
Three leading advocacy groups for older Americans and LGBT people will hold a series of town meetings in Florida to discuss these issues and what changes might be necessary to assure that LGBT elders are treated equitably.
The first will take place from 6 to 8 pm, Monday, Dec. 7, at the Pride Center at Equality Park, 2040 N Dixie Hwy, Fort Lauderdale.
The second will be on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Metro Wellness Community Center, 3251 Third Ave. N, St. Petersburg.
Both events will be free and open to the public.
The organizers are Equality Florida, AARP and SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders).
A recent report from SAGE found significant discrimination against older people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, especially in housing. One in eight LGB adults (12 percent) and one in four transgender adults (25 percent) reported having been discriminated against in their choice of housing. That study, called Out & Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults, Ages 45-75, can be found here.
A 10-state study by the Equal Rights Center, in partnership with SAGE, called Opening Doors: An Investigation of Barriers to Senior Housing for Same-Sex Couples, found unequal treatment of older same-sex partners as opposed to heterosexual partners in 48% of tests (96 out of 200).
“Despite our recent victories, we know our work is far from over,” said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida. “We must ensure that LGBT older adults, who have faced decades of unacceptable discrimination, do not have to go back into the closet in order to remain safe and healthy as they age. Equality Florida will continue to act as a resource for all members of our community throughout their lifetimes.”
Serena Worthington, Director of National Field Initiatives for SAGE, said the organization “is pleased and proud to be working with AARP Florida and Equality Florida on these community dialogues to learn how aging service providers and LGBT organizations in Florida are working to address these vast concerns and to identify what else needs to be done to assure that LGBT older adults in Florida enjoy a high quality of life free from discrimination.”
“AARP knows that for too long, LGBT elders have faced challenges as they navigate life that others do not,” said Jeff Johnson, state director for AARP Florida. “In order to best fight for and equip each individual to live their best life as they age, it’s imperative for us to know what issues this community is facing and how we can collaborate to address them.”