Monday, June 13, 2022
Happy Pride Month to everyone in the AgeGuide community! June is designated formally around the globe as the month to celebrate members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ+) communities and their innumerable and impactful contributions.
In Illinois, we have much to celebrate:
- In 2020, Senate Bill 1319 was passed to amend the Illinois Act on Aging to add LGBTQ older adults and older adults living with HIV to the definition of communities of “greatest social need” in the Illinois Act on Aging. Illinois was the third state to include LGBTQ identity and the first state to include HIV status to the protections.
- In 2021, Illinois repealed the HIV criminalization law, which was a law that was shown to negatively impact the health and wellness of many vulnerable communities and did not prevent transmission of HIV.
- In 2022, Senate Bill 3490 was passed to create a Commission on LGBTQ Aging to work on exploring the needs of LGBTQ older adults and develop recommendations to address the health and social determinants of health disparities that exist.
There are many ways that we in the aging services network can come together to further the progressive work that Illinois has taken to improve the health, wellness, and quality of life of older LGBTQ+ adults and older adults living with HIV.
There are a couple of actions I would like to share to get you started:
- Read the AARP Illinois and SAGE “Disrupting Disparities: Challenges and Solutions for 50+ LGBTQ Illinoisans” research report. This impactful report shares information regarding the growing demographic of older LGBTQ adults in Illinois; discusses strategies to address the challenges and health disparities experienced by the population; and provides multiple programmatic, service, and policy recommendations.
- Identify steps that you and your organization can take to create positive, affirming, and welcoming spaces. The National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging is the country’s first and only technical assistance resource center focused on improving the quality of services and supports offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender older adults, their families and caregivers. There are two guides I have found to be particularly helpful:
While June is officially “Pride Month”, it is just as important for us to honor those celebrations and to support older LGBTQ+ adults year-round! Wishing everyone a safe and happy Pride!
This guest blog post was written by Kelly Rice (they/them), Director of Aging and Disability Services- Central, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet, [email protected]