California law ensures LGBT seniors get respectful, competent elder care

SACRAMENTO — Assembly Bill 663, authored by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez and sponsored by Equality California and the California Senior Legislature, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown late Wednesday.

The law will help ensure LGBT seniors get respectful and competent elder care by integrating LGBT cultural competency instruction into the training received by residential care facility administrators.

“LGBT pioneers should live out their final years with dignity – not go back in the closet for fear of discrimination,” said John O’Connor, EQCA executive director. “LGBT seniors are amongst the most vulnerable in our population and thanks to Governor Jerry Brown and Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, we are one step closer to better protecting them.”

“Today marks a victory for the ever-growing LGBT population in our state and nation,” Gomez said. “LGBT seniors will now receive the care and respect they deserve. By 2030 there will be an estimated 3 million LGBT seniors in the United States; I am proud that California will lead the nation in preparing our caretakers to properly care for this growing demographic.”

Nationwide, there are an estimated 1.5 million LGBT elders, with that number projected to double by 2030. This is also the first generation to navigate the impact of HIV/AIDS on aging and health. By integrating cultural competency training for residential care administrators into the normal set of classes, LGBT seniors will worry less about being forced back into the closet.

“This was a true partnership between Assemblymember Gomez, EQCA and the California Senior Legislature,” said Shirley Krohn, Senior Assemblymember with the California Senior Legislature. “Collectively, we recognized the isolation, neglect, discrimination and substandard care this community has had to endure over the years. With the Governor’s signature, this bill will sensitize facility personnel to the unique needs of the LGBT senior community.”

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