FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2008
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Legislature Approves Protections for LGBT Seniors
Migden Measure, Sponsored by EQCA, Would Train Healthcare Professionals on the Needs of LGBT Seniors to Prevent Isolation, Discrimination in Senior Care Facilities
SACRAMENTO -- Legislation that would help prevent bias in senior care facilities and nursing homes passed the full Legislature on Friday with a 41-28 vote on the Assembly floor. The bill must return to the Senate for a routine concurrence vote before being sent to the governor's desk.
Senate Bill 1729, authored by Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, and sponsored by Equality California, would train licensed health professionals about the unique needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) seniors. The legislation would help create safe environments within senior care facilities that are free from bias for all older Californians.
"For many seniors, life in a care facility can be lonely and isolating," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. "This experience is often exacerbated for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors when they face homophobia and bias that may restrict their access to essential services, programs and activities. This measure will proactively create a culture of respect and understanding for seniors living in care facilities. Thanks to the support of our legislators, we are one step closer to ensuring that all California seniors are treated fairly and can grow older with dignity and respect."
SB 1729 would require licensed healthcare professionals who have constant interaction with seniors to participate in a training program that focuses on preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Many health professionals already receive cultural diversity training, but it does not include information and education about LGBT issues.
"No senior should be denied the care they need or forced to face indignities because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," said Sen. Migden. "I applaud my colleagues in the Legislature for passing this important legislation that will help foster respect for all seniors in care facilities who rely on the support of others for some of their most basic needs."
Basic rights, such as the choice to live in the same nursing home with a partner and the right to hospital visitation are routinely denied to same-gender couples in older age, according to a 2000 study from the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The study also shows that same-gender partners lack essential protections, including Medicaid benefits and access to pensions, which typically protect the homes and retirement funds of surviving spouses who are married.
Founded in 1998, Equality California celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2008, commemorating a decade of building a state of equality in California. EQCA is a nonprofit, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. www.eqca.org
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