SAGE is proud to be presenting on a panel with our partners in the Diverse Elders Coalition at the upcoming LGBT Policy Conference, Creating Change, taking place this week in Chicago. The panel is entitled, “Rage Against the Dying of the Light: Aging from Diverse Perspectives.”
The panel will discuss the specific needs that diverse elders have as they age and whether current programs, services, supports, and laws allow us to meet the needs of these growing and intersecting populations. It will delve into a variety of “isms” and phobias, from racism and ageism to transphobia and biphobia. And it will explore what we can do at the federal, state, and local levels to address the myriad challenges and opportunities diverse aging presents.
As SAGE’s point person on federal affairs, I will talk about what the federal government can do to address the unique challenges faced by LGBT older adults. As a population that faces pronounced social isolation, higher poverty rates than their non-LGBT counterparts, and at the same time, diminished access to culturally competent services, supports, and healthcare, our federal government can and should do more. It has the tools to address the chasm that exists between the greater need and the lower likelihood of this population accessing the critical services and supports they need to remain independent.
What can be done? As Congress works to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, it can include language proposed by Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Patrick Murphy that would target LGBT older adults for services and supports and hold the aging network accountable for reaching them – all by designating LGBT older adults a group of “Greatest Social Need.”
In the meantime, the Obama Administration can help as well. The Administration on Aging can require states to evaluate whether they are meeting the needs of LGBT older adults in their communities – and if they find they are not – require the states to report back on how they will meet the needs of LGBT older adults in their communities.
I look forward to discussing both the challenges facing LGBT older adults and their counterparts from the Diverse Elders Coalition and what we all can do – from Congress and the Obama Administration to activists in communities across the country – to ensure that all older adults get the services and supports they need to age with dignity.
Rage Against the Dying of the Light: LGBT Aging Diverse Perspectives
Saturday, January 23rd
Workshop 6 • 10:45am–12:15pm • PDR 2, 3rd Floor
What are the unique needs that LGBT people of color face as they get older? Are programs, services, policies, and laws meeting those needs? This discussion will identify some of the resources for LGBT elders of color, and will allow participants to think about the intersecting impacts of ageism, racism, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. Presenters will facilitate a discussion with national perspectives and local solutions.
Presenters: Ben de Guzman, Diverse Elders Coalition; Maria Glover-Wallace, Affinity Community Services; Vega Subramaniam, Vega Mala Consulting; Aaron Tax, SAGE; Serena Worthington, SAGE
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.