If you need a mood-boosting reminder of how much progress we’ve made around LGBT aging issues, check out PrideSource’s “What Am I Optimistic Abouse? LGBT Older Adult Needs Moving Forward,” at http://www.pridesource.com/guidearticle.html?article=57722
Southeastern Michigan’s Area Agency on Aging recently hired the nation’s second full-time LGBT aging specialist, and the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging sponsored a statewide LGBT aging needs assessment with more than 1,000 respondents. Michigan volunteer efforts include three weekly LGBT older adult social groups hosted at Affirmations; Gay Elders of Southeast Michigan (which hopes to become a new SAGE affiliate); the Detroit Elder Project at KICK, which grew out of the first-in-the-nation African-American LGBT Elder Summit; and the LGBT Older Adult Coalition, which has trained more than 164 aging care workers at 24 different agencies. This year will be the third annual LGBT Older Adult Summit.
For more information, check out:
Gay Elders of Southeast Michigan http://Facebook.com/gesemich
KICK’s African-American LGBT Elder Summit http://www.E-KICK.org
LGBT Older Adult Coalition http://www.LGBTolderadults.com
Sometimes the discrimination and pain LGBT older people go through can end up making positive changes.
That is what’s happening in Sonoma County, California. In a case that began in 2008, Sonoma County Adult Protective Services (APS) opened a case concerning Clay Greene and his partner Harold Scull. Believing that Scull had fallen during an argument with Greene, officials separated the two men and began a series of actions that concluded, after Scull’s death, in a lawsuit that, among other things, charged officials with homophobia. (For more details on the case, see “Homophobia or Expedience? Sonoma County Goes on Trial” (see http://www.forge-forward.org/docs/Sonoma-case-VED-article.pdf.) Greene settled the case last July.
This month, the Sonoma County Division of Adult & Aging Services held a staff in-service training that included showing the film “Gen Silent,” about LGBT elders. This award-winning film was released last summer and highlights “the unique mix of isolation and fear facing many gay seniors.” For more on the Sonoma County showing, see the blog post by Stu Maddux, the film’s director and editor (http://stumaddux.blogspot.com/2011/02/agency-that-separated-elderly-gay.html). For more information on Gen Silent, see its Facebook page or go to http://gensilent.com.
Eons ago – 1994, to be exact – a researcher named Robert Behney studied 24 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) in 15 metropolitan areas. For the past decade and a half, we’ve been quoting his findings, including these: 46% of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) surveyed said that LGBT people would not be welcome at their senior centers if their sexual orientation were known. Also, 96% did not offer services specifically for gay and lesbian older adults and did not target their outreach to them; and only 17% provided training to staff on issues related to sexual orientation. Has nothing changed in all that time?
A new study by researchers Kelly Abel Knochel, Catherine F. Croghan, Rajean P. Moone and Jane K. Quam has found that indeed they have. Throwing their net much farther, the 2010 study, “Ready to Serve? The Aging Network and LGB and T Older Adults,” reached 320 AAAs in 45 states. Now they found that more than 1/3 had offered or funded some type of LGBT training to staff. The vast majority (75.6% for LGBs, 71.9% for Ts) thought LGBT elders would be welcomed at local aging programs. However, only a few had received at least one request to help an LGB (31.3%) or T (19.1%) older adult in the past year, and LGBT-targeted services are still quite rare: 7.2% offered services targeted to transgender elders, and 7.8% offered services targeted to LGB elders. Just over 12% had targeted outreach to the LGBT elder community.
Want to know more? The whole study is available in several places on the web. Here’s one: http://www.tcaging.org/downloads/lgbtstudynational.pdf