[New York, NY] — Yesterday, D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced first-of-its-kind legislation to better protect and support LGBT elders and older people living with HIV in the District of Columbia.
The bill, modeled after similar efforts in Massachusetts and California, adds LGBT elders and older people with HIV to the list of those older people in the District who are considered to have greatest social need under the Older Americans Act ( OAA ). The OAA is the nation's primary law directing the provision of services and supports ( like Meals on Wheels ) to older people in the United States. Making this small but important update to how the law is implemented in D.C., ensures that LGBT elders and people living with HIV have equal access to crucial government aging services and programming.
The legislation would also establish a cultural competency training requirement and a bill of rights for LGBT elders and people living with HIV in long-term care. If passed, it would make D.C. the first jurisdiction in the nation to provide these supports and protections to both LGBT older people and older people living with HIV.
"SAGE congratulates Councilmember Mary Cheh on her visionary leadership on behalf of LGBT older people and older people living with HIV in the District," said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. "LGBT older people as well as older people with HIV including many Washingtonians face numerous barriers to successful aging and access to aging services and supports. By designating LGBT older people and older people living with HIV greatest social needs populations, Councilmember Cheh's legislation would ensure that they get the services and supports they need under Older Americans Act-funded programs like Meals on Wheels and meals at senior centers."
Adams continued, "Councilmember Cheh's legislation would also ensure that LGBT older people and older people with HIV are protected from discrimination in long-term care, and that the people who serve them are culturally competent. These much-needed updates to the District's aging laws would ensure that LGBT older people, older people living with HIV, and all Washingtonians know that District law has their back and that they can get culturally competent, non-discriminatory access to the critical services and supports they need as they get older."
—From a SAGE press release
SAGE is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT ) older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older people and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT elders, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates in the United States. Learn more at sageusa.org .