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Penn withdraws position that trans workers aren’t protected under Title VII

Penn withdraws position that trans workers aren’t protected under Title VII

Tim Cwiek    November 13, 2019

The University of Pennsylvania this week withdrew its legal stance in a contentious court case that trans workers in the region aren’t protected from discrimination under Title VII of the...

Mark My Words

LGBT representation on TV and a thank-yo…

Mark Segal    December 5, 2019

A few weeks ago, this column touched on the subject of why the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime, both of which run romantic holiday movies 24/7 during the holidays, don’t have...

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Media Trail - 12/06/19

National

Media Trail - 12/06/19

PGN Staff    December 5, 2019

Judge blocks challenge to Indiana’s religious objections law WNDU.com reported conservative religious groups have failed to convince an Indiana judge they faced any harm from limits placed on the state’s...

Local entertainer Darryl Broadus

Obituaries

Local entertainer Darryl Broadus

Victoria Brownworth    December 5, 2019

  Darryl Broadus, a local entertainer and designer, died suddenly after a short illness on Nov. 13. He was 59.

Celebrating the life of Mansour Al-Hawasy

Obituaries

Celebrating the life of Mansour Al-Hawasy

Steven A. Johnston    December 5, 2019

  Mansour Al-Hawasy, J.D. (26) of Philadelphia sashayed from this world on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. Mansour is survived by his adorable cat Sinclair as well as a loving village of...

International News - 12/06/19

International

International News - 12/06/19

Larry Nichols    December 5, 2019

Haitian gay activist found dead Human rights advocates and others are mourning the death of a Haitian gay rights activist who was found dead inside his home in Port-au-Prince under suspicious...

Trans woman urges judge to keep lawsuit intact

Local

Trans woman urges judge to keep lawsuit intact

Tim Cwiek    December 5, 2019

A trans woman who’s suing the University of Pennsylvania and its hospital for job discrimination recently urged a federal judge to deny the defendants’ motion to dismiss major portions of...

Phila. Police Dept. invites LGBT dialogue over coffee

Local

Phila. Police Dept. invites LGBT dialogue over coffee

Gary L. Day    December 5, 2019

This week, the Philadelphia Police Department held the latest of its Coffee with a Cop community outreach events — this time in the heart of the gayborhood at Starbucks at...

AMA supports banning conversion therapy

National

AMA supports banning conversion therapy

Victoria Brownworth    December 5, 2019

  The American Medical Association (AMA) has voted to support state and federal efforts to ban gay conversion therapy, the scientifically discredited practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation...

LGBTQ Victory Fund endorses trans candidate for Del. senate

Regional

LGBTQ Victory Fund endorses trans candidate for Del. senate

Laura Smythe    December 5, 2019

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, a national organization dedicated to electing out leaders to public office, endorsed trans woman Sarah McBride on Wednesday in her 2020 bid for the Delaware state...

Providing care and services to LGBT+ older adults: It’s a process and a journey

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A rainbow flag near the entrance to your organization is great, but it’s not enough.

rainbow-sticker.jpg

To truly be an organization that is sensitive to and provides a spectrum of services to older LGBT+ adults takes a lot of commitment and ongoing work.
Whenever your clientele consists of older adults, you’re dealing not only with issues of homophobia, heterosexism, transphobia, and other isms related to identity -- but of ageism. 

Unfortunately, ageism exists not only in mainstream society, but even in the LGBT+ world.

If you’re really committed to providing person-centered care, then you as a practitioner and an organization need to become inclusive, competent, and affirming of LGBT+ older adults and their families. Keep in mind that just because LGBT+ older adults, and LGBT+ people in your organization, aren’t out, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

This work takes time and is multifaceted. What you’re working against is most people’s lack of education, deep-seated internalized prejudice, stigma, and a long history of discrimination and harm by institutions including medical, legal, and religious.

It is understandable that LGBT+ older adults would choose not to disclose their sexual orientation and/or gender identity to service providers because of legitimate concerns of being mistreated or even harmed.

Doing this work, which includes better and open communication between care provider and client for the sake of optimum person-centered care, will also result in a healthier and more responsive organization. And as the Baby Boomers become older adults, many more out and proud, you’ll be ready to provide appropriate services for them.

There are several things to do to get started. Acknowledging and affirming that older people have sexuality is an important place to begin.  

Then, start having conversations about sexuality and gender, incorporating precise, normalizing language including “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual,” “transgender,” and “cisgender.” Talk openly about the existence of older LGBT+ adults.  Keep in  mind that you might be working with LGBT+ colleagues, or they may have LGBT+ family members – or you, yourself, may be LGBT+, and understand first hand challenges LGBT+ people have had, and continue, to face.  

Straight professionals who are aware of and sensitive to LGBT+ issues can play an essential role in providing and affirming a supportive environment for their LGBT+ colleagues and clients. Straight and/or cisgender allies, your support and involvement in this work can make a huge difference.

But individuals can only go so far without the enthusiastic, sincere support from the leadership of any organization.  The leadership needs to be clear that it does not tolerate discrimination of sexual and gender minorities in terms of both services provided and employment, and is committed, with time and financial resources, to evolving into an inclusive, affirming, and competent organization.  

Another component of this work involves assessing your organization’s policies and forms beginning with nondiscrimination policies for staff and clients. Make sure they include the phrases “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Intake forms should provide opportunities for self-disclosure of sexual orientation, gender identity, sex assigned at birth, name and pronouns used, and relationship history beyond the three options of married, single, or divorced. Inclusive bathroom signage, such as “all-gender bathroom” is important.

Acknowledging and celebrating Pride Month in June and LGBT History Month in October can provide additional opportunities for learning. A task force to assist in these efforts can be helpful.

Finally, doing this work, ideally on an ongoing basis, requires training and education in sexual-orientation and gender-identity with a focus on LGBT+ older adult experiences, needs and concerns for all employees, from the top down.  The goal?  Open-hearted, healing encounters -- not based on assumptions or judgments – in which meaningful connections and growth can occur.

Rabbi Erica Steelman, MAHL, MPP, is Director of LGBT+ Initiatives and Staff Chaplain for Abramson Senior Care.


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