Wednesday, May 24, 2023

In Face of Anti-LGBTQ+ Extremism, 200 Senior Living Communities Commit to LGBTQ+ Inclusion

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and SAGE, the world’s largest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ elders, released the 2023 Long Term Care Equality Index (LEI). This year, 200 long-term care communities across 34 states participated in the LEI, with 75 percent of participating communities earning either the High Performer or Leader designation. Recent news about a senior living facility in Boston vandalized with hate speech, as well as a story of a 79-year-old transgender woman who was discriminated against by a nursing home in Maine, highlight the need to support LGBTQ+ elders.

Many older LGBTQ+ people are fearful of living their authentic selves or faced with outright discrimination against them and their families simply because of who they are. In a study by AARP, 76 percent of older LGBTQ+ people expressed concern about having adequate social support to rely on as they age. The same study found that 73 percent of LGBTQ+ older people do not have access to LGBTQ+-specific services for older people. In response, the HRC Foundation’s Health & Aging program and SAGE created the LEI -- the only-of-its-kind benchmarking tool promoting LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and practices in long-term care and senior housing communities. The tool also formally recognizes those communities that lead the field in LGBTQ+ inclusion.

“With anti-LGBTQ+ extremism on the rise, it is more important than ever to create safer spaces for LGBTQ+ people and that includes the places we age. It’s powerful to see 200 communities come together with HRC and SAGE to deliver on values of inclusion and equity,” said Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “Our older LGBTQ+ community – the ones whose shoulders we stand on – are so often forgotten, and they deserve more from all of us. The participation in our first-ever LEI is a huge step forward in uplifting and protecting the needs and rights of our elders. And we aren’t done – we look forward to seeing expanded participation in the LEI in years to come.”

“One of the biggest concerns facing older LGBTQ+ people is their future – especially when finding welcoming and inclusive places to live and receive care in their later years,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. Today, 200 long-term care communities nationwide demonstrate their commitment to LGBTQ+ elders with their pledge to the LEI. The LEI is a powerful tool that helps ensure that LGBTQ+ elders get the respectful care they deserve as they age. This is essential for all LGBTQ+ older people, but the need is especially acute for LGBTQ+ elders of color, transgender older adults, and LGBTQ+ elders living in rural areas, who often face even greater challenges. SAGE is proud to work with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation on this vital initiative so that LGBTQ+ elders can age with the dignity and respect they deserve.”