SAGE Applauds Enactment of New York State Bill Bolstering Support for LGBT Older Adults
Governor Andrew Cuomo signs legislation in an important step toward ensuring equal rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older New Yorkers.
"In SAGE's experience, LGBT older people often do not access aging services out of fear of harassment or hostility. Few aging services providers plan for, or reach out to, the LGBT community, and few are prepared to address insensitivity or discrimination aimed at LGBT elders by staff or other older people," said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. "I am heartened by the support and leadership shown by Governor Cuomo and the state legislature—in particular Senator Duane and Assemblymember Kellner—in enacting this bill, an important first step in improving the lives of LGBT older New Yorkers."
In addition to the challenges of aging faced by all New Yorkers, available research has shown that LGBT older adults have the added burden of a lifetime of stigma; relationships that generally lack legal recognition; and unequal treatment under laws, programs and services designed to support and protect elders. Contrary to stereotypes, LGBT elders are more likely to live in poverty, face social and community isolation, and lack appropriate health care and long-term care.
Therefore, LGBT older adults often have an increased need for supportive services and programs—and with the growing numbers of LGBT elders, projected to double nationwide over the next two decades, aging services providers will be called on more and more to deliver culturally appropriate services that meet their unique needs.
A recent national survey of aging services providers shows that a growing number of respondents would welcome LGBT elders, but lack the proper training. Resources such as the federally-funded National Resource Center on LGBT Aging have been created to provide training and tools to aging providers, LGBT organizations, and LGBT older people themselves.
SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, and provides training for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. With offices in New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago, SAGE coordinates a growing network of 22 local SAGE affiliates in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Learn more at sageusa.org and lgbtagingcenter.org.