At a nursing home in California, a male resident was denied use of nail polish or help in applying it. A lesbian in the same facility refers to her partner who visits as her sister. Recent studies confirm that LGBTQ experience mistreatment in long term care facilities that often rises to the level of abuse or neglect. For many LGBTQ Seniors, the only option is to go back in the closet. With the passage of SB 219, it is unlawful for a long term care facility to take specified actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression or HIV status.
The Bill was authored by State Senator Scott Wiener and sponsored by Equality California. It was approved by Governor Brown on October 4, 2017.
The LGBT Senior Bill of Rights requires facilities to refer to residents by their preferred pronoun and prohibits facilities from denying admission, involuntarily discharging, evicting or transferring a resident based on LGBT status. Under the new law, LGBT Seniors in a long term care facility have the right to wear or be dressed in clothing, accessories or cosmetics that are permitted by others.
“These LGBT seniors are the pioneers who fought for and won the rights and freedoms so many of us enjoy today.” said Senator Wiener. He went on to say, “Supporting these heroes is a moral imperative, especially as they face discrimination, invisibility, unique health challenges and frequent lack of family support.”
Facilities must post a notice of the LGBT Bill of Rights where the facilities’ nondiscrimination policy is posted. Finding a facility that is welcoming to someone who is LGBT is a challenge. Peers can mistreat, ostracize and marginalize their LGBT neighbors. Many LGBT don’t have children and are aging alone. This new law is a significant step in addressing discrimination against LGBT seniors in long term care facilities.