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National Gay & Lesbian Task Force

Monday, September 01, 2008


Our country is facing an impending and tremendous challenge as baby boomers start aging into their senior years. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), the challenge is compounded because of widespread homophobia, transphobia, racial injustice and economic inequity. Currently there are an estimated 3 million LGBT elders in the United States. By 2030, that number will nearly double.

Compounding the challenges in addressing these issues is a critical lack of research about LGBT seniors. In addition, older LGBT people increasingly face the unknown dimensions of aging with HIV/AIDS as the first generation of survivors to navigate the impact of HIV on aging. At the Task Force, we see this crisis approaching and we are responding.

Why It Matters:

LGBT people face a number of particular challenges as they age. They often do not have access to adequate health care, affordable housing and other social services that they need due to institutionalized heterosexism and transphobia. Mainstream senior providers have limited information or training in how to appropriately work with and serve our diverse communities. Existing regulations and proposed policy changes in programs like Social Security or Medicare, which impact millions of LGBT elders, are discussed without our views and interests as part of the debate.

What We’re Doing:

In 2009, Aging Policy Analyst Laurie Young presented information and data collection that will be included in the new edition of Outing Age at Aging in America, the 2009 Annual Conference of the American Society on Aging and the National Council on Aging. The conference brings together 4,000 professionals from the fields of aging, healthcare and education.

Additionally, the Task Force continues to work on several fronts to ensure that the needs of LGBT elders are not ignored.

  • The Task Force, in partnership with SAGE, is working on a renewed effort to impact aging policies, including a map, Find the Dollars You Deserve, to explain to LGBT local service providers and community centers how they might identify federal funds to add or enhance their aging services. Get the map here.
  • We’re working to update and revise Outing Age, the first and most important public policy document addressing LGBT aging issues, to frame those issues and challenges in the context of the first decades of the 21st century.
  • In June 2007, the Task Force launched From the Long View: LGBT Elders and Experts Speak , a five-part podcast of interviews from the second meeting of the National LGBT Aging Roundtable.
  • The long-awaited Final Report of the 2005 White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA), released in fall 2006 by the Administration on Aging, marks a milestone in the fight for the rights of LGBT elders. Months of intensive organizing, including town-hall meetings held around the country, and the Task Force-convened Make Room for All diversity summit last December — a counterpoint to the WHCoA — have paid off in the explicit inclusion of LGBT elders in the report. Read our Make Room for All report.
  • In June 2006, our LGBT Aging Initiative hosted the first-ever National LGBT Aging Roundtable, bringing together LGBT aging activists and professionals to discuss their endeavors, as well as to begin building a national network for those involved with LGBT elder issues, services, policies and advocacy. The meeting was the first of a twice yearly gathering the Task Force will convene to help generate a structure for coordinated LGBT aging work nationally.
  • As co-founders of the Diversity in Aging Coalition, the Task Force and Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) are building a network of support among those advocating policies that reflect the diverse experiences of our nation's elders.
  • We are working with local groups to help them develop and expand LGBT aging services and resources.
  • The Task Force LGBT Aging Initiative is partnering with state and local LGBT groups to do advocacy and policy work specifically focused on LGBT aging issues.
  • We are joining with national aging advocacy and policy development groups to include LGBT aging concerns and interests in proposed initiatives in national aging policies for the baby-boom generation and 21st-century America.

What You Can Do:

Send information about what your community is currently doing about LGBT aging issues to Laurie Young.

The Task Force expresses special thanks to the Allan Morrow Foundation for making our work on LGBT aging issues possible.