Groundbreaking legislation -- recommended by the LGBT Aging Task Force -- will prohibit discrimination faced by LGBT seniors in long-term care facilities.

San Francisco – Today the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Supervisor Scott Wiener’s LGBT Senior Long Term Care Facilities Bill of Rights Ordinance, which will prohibit discrimination faced by LGBT Seniors.  The ordinance originated as a recommendation from the LGBT Aging Task Force’s policy report, “LGBT Aging at the Golden Gate,” and will make it illegal to discriminate against patients in long-term care facilities based on their sexual orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression or HIV status.

“Our LGBT seniors are the pioneers who paved the way for the rights people in our community enjoy today, and it is our responsibility to ensure that as they age they continue to enjoy those very same rights,” said Supervisor Wiener. “Given the discriminatory policies being proposed in Indiana and elsewhere right now, I’m particularly proud that today San Francisco once again voiced its unwavering support to guarantee the dignity and respect of all San Francisco residents.” 

LGBT seniors are a particularly vulnerable population due to lifelong experiences of marginalization that place them at greater risk of isolation, homelessness, poverty, and premature institutionalization.  As LGBT seniors enter long-term care facilities, staff, at times, lack protocols for dealing with aging LGBT populations.

While discrimination against LGBT seniors is prohibited under existing State law, ample evidence shows that it remains a significant problem.  According to a 2011 study “Stories from the Field; LGBT Older Adults in Long-Term Care Facilities,” published by the National Senior Citizens Law Center, 89% of respondents indicated that they believe caretakers would discriminate against them for being LGBT; 43% personally witnessed or experienced mistreatment of LGBT seniors.

The ordinance specifies a number of requirements that long-term care facilities must fulfill when caring for LGBT or HIV-positive residents. These include, for example:

  • Requiring facilities to designate an LGBT liaison, who undergoes appropriate periodic training;
  • Requiring facilities to respect residents’ wishes to be addressed in the pronoun of their choice;
  • Forbidding the denial of a request by two residents to share a room and forbidding room reassignment where one resident complains about another resident’s sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Requiring access to appropriate medical care specific to an LGBT resident’s needs;
  • Requiring that residents be allowed to use restrooms available to other residents of the same gender identity.

The bill was recommended unanimously by the Government Audit and Oversight Committee of the Board of Supervisors. This bill is endorsed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Transgender Law Center, the National Center for Transgender Equity, FORGE Transgender Aging Network, Openhouse, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California,

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, and Justice in Aging.

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