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COVID reveals long-term discrimination of older LGBTQ people of color

New York Assemblymember Harry Bronson in a Zoom conference with representatives of AARP and SAGE.

The AARP Foundation and SAGE, an organization that advocates for older LGBTQ people, announced that they’re working together on an initiative to address needs of older LGBTQ people. While the pandemic has impacted all aspects of life, for older LBGTQ people of color, it has exposed the effects of long-term discrimination

“COVID-19 has made those challenges worse, but the reality is these severe difficulties and disparities existed long before COVID-19,” Michael Adams with SAGE said.

According to a report commissioned by AARP and SAGE, older LGBTQ people of color are at greater risk of COVID-19 related complications due to underlying health conditions, and prolonged economic insecurity due to discrimination. About a third of LGBTQ people over the age of 60 are low income.

The same report shows that a majority of LGBTQ people age 45 and older are also concerned about neglect, abuse, and harassment in long-term care facilities.

Assemblymember Harry Bronson says that for LGBTQ people living in nursing homes, discrimination has lead many to hide their identies.

“I’ve heard from far too many folks talking about going back into the closet in their older years because of not feeling a part of the community within these facilities,” Broson said.

One proposed solution is new policies to provide added protections for aging LGBTQ people. This includes mandating training for state-funded healthcare providers to address specific needs of this population.

Noelle E. C. Evans is a general assignment reporter/producer for WXXI News with a background in documentary filmmaking and education.
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