Keywords: GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender)
SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders)
AARP Maine, SAGE Maine Announce Results of Statewide GLBT Aging Project Report
Opportunities Abound to Address Trends of Discrimination, Isolation, of Older Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Residents Throughout Maine
AARP Maine and SAGE Maine held a press conference on March 22nd in the Welcome Center of the State House to announce results from a statewide GLBT aging report. The report compiles results from a needs assessment conducted by AARP Maine in 2012 through an online survey, multiple focus groups, interviews and extensive research regarding issues that affect GLBT individuals and their families.
“The primary purpose for this project is to initiate the establishment of a SAGE affiliate chapter in Maine,” said John Hennessy, AARP Maine Advocacy Director and one of the authors of the report. “Our long-term goal is to advance awareness of GLBT aging issues in Maine. The report we released today clearly demonstrates why it is essential that we address the needs of the older GLBT community as soon as possible.”
The results of the report highlight ample opportunity to support this mission as the project’s needs assessment survey revealed some disturbing trends that adversely affect the health and happiness of older members of the GLBT community. For example, of those who responded to questions about their faith, over one-third indicated they had been discriminated against in their faith community due to their GLBT identity. Nearly 30 percent of respondents experienced property damage, and six out of ten felt this was due to homophobia. Alarmingly, of the total 468 survey respondents, 20 percent state they had been the victim of discrimination while being treated by a health care provider.
“As a caregiver, I know how important it is to establish trust and respect in that relationship,” said Erica Magnus, Ph.D., of Windham. “Someone who is in need of a caregiver is already in a potentially vulnerable position. It is troubling to know that people who may have struggled with their GLBT identities throughout their lives might now be victimized in a caregiving situation.”
A heartening statistic from the report demonstrates the importance of acceptance in Maine’s communities with 92 percent of respondents indicating that they feel safe in their own communities. With the legalization of gay marriage in Maine through the 2012 general election, it is expected that this trend will continue.
“Maine is riding two waves of change,” said Marilyn R. Gugliucci, Ph.D., Professor and Director for Geriatrics Education and Research and chief author of the report. “First, demographically, Maine is leading the way with the oldest age per capita. Second, socially, Maine is leading the way with acceptance of GLBT people. This needs assessment is the foundation of Maine SAGE. Maine SAGE will advance awareness of GLBT aging in Maine and, with the help of the national SAGE partnership, will work to improve services and support systems for Maine’s older GLBT community.”
During the press conference, Doug Kimmel spoke about his role as founding member of SAGE. He said “SAGE was founded in NYC in 1978 in my living room. To see how the organization has grown from its roots in an Episcopal Church in Greenwich Village to a national network is extraordinary. To establish a chapter in Maine is a dream of a lifetime and will help our GLBT residents live their lives as themselves with dignity as they age.”
“Maine is poised to be a leader in inclusive programs and services for all its residents,” agreed Hennessy. “An affiliation with SAGE will serve as a foundation for raising awareness regarding both the challenges and the opportunities for social change that will greatly benefit the older GLBT community in our state.”
For a full copy of the report: http://www.scribd.com/doc/170363038/AARP-SAGE-Needs-Assessment-REVISED-0913
For more info about SAGE: www.sageusa.org
To listen to the MPBN Interview: http://www.mpbn.net/Home/tabid/36/ctl/ViewItem/mid/5347/ItemId/27013/Default.aspx
Photo: From GLBT Report, AARP Staff