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LGBTQ seniors, per new California law, will get equal access to services, programming

LGBTQ Seniors

Starting next year, California LGBTQ seniors will have equal access to vital government aging services and programming such as Meals on Wheels and senior centers, thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Photo: iStock/EyeJoy.

Starting next year, California LGBTQ seniors will have equal access to vital government aging services and programming such as Meals on Wheels and senior centers.

Assembly Bill 2719, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Friday and goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019, amends state law implementing the federal Older Americans Act and the Older Californians Act to add sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to the list of seniors who have the greatest social needs as a result of cultural and social isolation. The bill also gives those seniors priority consideration for programs and services administered through the California Department of Aging.

ACCESS FOR LGBTQ SENIORS

“LGBT elders experience high rates of social isolation and poverty as well as thin support networks, and heavily rely on home and community-based services in their later years,” said Michael Adams, chief executive officer of Sage, the nation’s largest advocacy group for LGBT seniors. “Just like all other older people, we must ensure (LGBT seniors) have access to welcoming services in their communities.”

The bill was authored by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) and passed unanimously by both chambers of the legislature earlier this year.

Last year, the governor signed a bill into law that protects LGBTQ seniors from discrimination in long-term care facilities.

 

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1.5 MILLION LGBTQ SENIORS

An estimated 1.5 million gay, lesbian and bisexual people over 65 live in the nation, and 570,000 in California. That number is projected to double by 2030, according to nonprofit group Sage. In California,

The Older Americans Act, enacted in 1965, funds various services for older adults including meals, job training, senior centers, caregiver support, transportation, health promotion, and benefits enrollment. In California, the Mello-Granlund Older Californians Act, matches those funds and through the California Department of Aging provides a framework for their operation throughout the state.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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