President Biden’s LGBTQ Pride Month Proclamation noted “many LGBTQ+ seniors, who faced discrimination and oppression throughout their lives, are isolated and need support and elder care.” At ACL, we are committed to ensuring that LGBTQ+ older adults receive the services and supports they need and deserve.
ACL has a long history of working on behalf of LGBTQ+ older Americans.
- For more than fifteen years, ACL has stated that “isolation due to sexual orientation or gender identity may restrict a person’s ability to perform normal daily tasks or live independently” and therefore LGBTQ+ older adults should be targeted for services and supports because they meet the Older Americans Act definition of “greatest social need.”
- Since 2010, ACL has supported the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging to provide technical assistance aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to LGBTQ+ older adults.
- Over the years, ACL has funded grants and produced informational materials specific to older adults living with HIV/AIDS.
However, ACL and the aging network can and must do more. ACL is taking the following steps to ensure LGBTQ+ older adults are heard, understood, and treated equitably.
- With passage of the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 (P.L. 116-131), ACL will be releasing new guidance for states to use in developing their state plans. This guidance will emphasize and build upon ACL’s long-standing inclusion of LGBTQ+ older adults as a population in greatest social need by requiring states and area agencies on aging to describe in their plans how they will conduct outreach and education to LGBTQ+ older adults.
- ACL is also committed to implementing the Administration’s Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. ACL is working with other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services components to ensure the agency’s grants prohibit sex discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- ACL is taking steps to increase data and research on the unique needs of, and approaches to serving, members of the LGBTQ+ community. For example ACL is engaged with the Measuring Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation for the National Institutes of Health ad hoc panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and looks forward to the report providing direction on how best to incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity questions into the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants.
- Individuals age 50 and older now make up almost half of Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program clients. Thus, ACL and the Health Resources and Services Administration are planning joint programming to better connect our networks and make local connections between Ryan White Program providers and area agencies on aging.
As we celebrate Pride Month during June, ACL hopes you will join us in looking for ways we can improve support for LGBTQ+ older adults. Take time to celebrate and engage LGBTQ+ older adults in your community. Listen and learn from them about the discrimination they’ve faced and how they have persevered. Invite them to work with you to explore ways we can improve our outreach and ensure that they feel welcome in our programs. With a shared commitment and a focused effort on equity and inclusion of all older adults, we can ensure that we are providing the services and supports they need.