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AARP New York Helps Pass Protections for LGBTQ+ Nursing Home Residents

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En español | We applaud New York Gov. Kathy Hochul for enacting into law an AARP-backed bill designed to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ+ residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer older adults face unique challenges as they age. They’re twice as likely as older heterosexuals to be single and live alone, and four times less likely to have children, so they often must rely on someone outside their family for long-term care.

Many in the LGBTQ+ community worry about mistreatment or being forced to hide their sexual identity if they need to move to a nursing home or an assisted living facility, a 2018 AARP survey of LGBTQ+ adults 45 and older found.

New York’s law, which Hochul signed Nov. 30, creates a bill of rights for residents in long-term care facilities who identify as LGBTQ+. The law prohibits facilities and their staff from making discriminatory room assignment, admissions, transfer or discharge decisions based on a resident’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status.

It would also prevent facilities from denying or limiting appropriate medical or nonmedical care and require staff to complete cultural competency training with a focus on LGBTQ+ residents every two years.

In a statement, Hochul said the law will ensure that all New Yorkers “find safety and support in places where they need it the most,” regardless of “who they are, who they love or their HIV status.”

“New York seniors should be able to live their lives with the dignity and respect they deserve, free from discrimination of every kind,” she said.

The win comes after years of advocacy from AARP New York, which joined with SAGE, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ older adults, in leading the push to get the bill over the finish line. This year, we helped pass a similar law in Oregon, the state with the highest share of its population who identify as LGBTQ+.

Andrea Meyer, AARP Oregon advocacy director, testified before an Oregon state Senate committee in March, saying that nearly 60 percent of older LGBTQ+ residents in that state reported experiencing discrimination in the past year — a quarter of those were in residential or health care settings. Gov. Tina Kotek signed the bill into law July 31.

Learn more about AARP’s resources for LGBTQ+ caregiving and keep up with our advocacy work in New York and Oregon.

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