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4 posts from October 2017

October 10, 2017

Coming Out to Your Healthcare Provider

 

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In celebration of National Coming Out Day on October 11, SAGECare and our partner the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation want to share the vibrant voices of LGBT elders. Many of the people in the videos embedded below discuss the various consequences of neglecting to disclose your sexual orientation to your doctor. If a doctor assumes that you’re heterosexual, you may end up missing out on an array of important services you need and deserve.

Many doctors respond to this issue by saying that there is no need for patients to disclose their sexual orientation, stating that this information wouldn’t cause them to treat a patient any differently. While these reassuring words may be said with good intentions, it’s important to be able to openly discuss these matters. That way, doctors can ensure that their patients are receiving completely person-directed care, including all the relevant information, treatments, and help that speak to their specific needs.

While great progress has been made, statistics show that many LGBT people, and transgender people in particular, are still subjected to some of the most painful discrimination when accessing healthcare. This includes, but is not limited to, when people seek medical services related to gender reassignment.

Many older LGBT adults say that medical visits are easier for them once their doctor knows their sexual orientation. After having this conversation with their doctor, many patients report that they no longer feel like they have to censor themselves or worry about being judged or discriminated against. Once the information is out in the open, patients can count on their doctor’s office to be a safe space where they will be treated with respect. 

That’s why SAGECare, SAGE’s cultural competency training program for long-term care providers, and the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation created these videos. With the voices of LGBT elders and those who care for them out in the open, LGBT older adults will receive better care. Come out to your provider. And remember SAGE's slogan: We refuse to be invisible.  —Grace Jones

 

October 9, 2017

Trump Administration Issues License to Discriminate

 

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The Trump administration recently issued guidelines that dangerously give a license to discriminate against the LGBT community, especially our elders, under the guise of so-called religious freedom. 

Issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime opponent of LGBT equality, the guidance gives federal agencies broad leeway to discriminate against LGBT people based on their religious beliefs and allowing them exemptions from federal laws, rules, and regulations.

Of particular note to the LGBT older adult community, nearly 85 percent of retirement communities are faith-based, according to a recent analysis by LeadingAge and Ziegler, a Chicago investment bank. What’s more, these organizations make up more than 80 percent of all units available to LGBT elders, putting them at specific risk. LGBT elders’ care could be seriously compromised by allowing these institutions or individuals to find an exemption to refuse to care for LGBT elders.

This license to discriminate also exacerbates the challenge of LGBT people seeking housing. LGBT older adults already face extreme discrimination when seeking housing: A study by the Equal Rights Center and SAGE found that 48 percent of elder same-sex couples experienced overt discrimination when applying for senior housing, and the problem is amplified for older transgender people. When it comes to visiting a doctor or a medical facility, this license to discriminate could allow providers to refuse care to LGBT people or provide substandard service.

Further, this license to discriminate goes directly against the wishes of a vast majority of Americans and a bipartisan group in Congress (60 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Democrats), who support protecting our LGBT community, according to a recent Public Religion Research Survey.

“Today’s Department of Justice guidelines are merely a license to discriminate based on so-called religious freedom, and they are a disaster for this country,” says SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “Neither individuals nor faith-based organizations—nor any other entity—have the right to elevate their religious beliefs above the laws that protect all Americans. For LGBT elders, this guidance is particularly dangerous."

Adams continues: “The vast majority of long-term care providers in this country are faith-based organizations. The notion that the federal government would suggest that such organizations can elevate their religious beliefs above their legal, ethical, and professional responsibilities to provide respectful and discrimination-free care is outrageous. SAGE and LGBT elders will fight any effort to implement this license to discriminate against LGBT elders and the LGBT community.”

SAGE will continue to stand with and for our LGBT pioneers. We will not back down. We refuse to be invisible.

October 6, 2017

SAGE Assures Same-Sex Married Couples That Their Rights Are Safe

Copy of Graham Healthcare Bill

Given the severe challenges that LGBT people have faced under the Trump administration, we understand our community’s alarm when hearing news that the administration is planning to revoke a rule proposed in 2014 to protect married, same-sex couples in long-term care facilities like nursing homes.

In consultation with our community’s best legal minds, SAGE has carefully reviewed this announcement. The proposed rule from 2014 is no longer needed in light of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in 2015, which ensures that our marriages are federally recognized and afforded equal rights under all circumstances in all parts of the country. Therefore, in this case the Trump administration’s action will make no difference.  

Having said that, we all know that the progress our community has made is under regular attack by the Trump administration. This week alone the administration has moved to roll back protections for transgender employees and voted against a UN resolution condemning the death penalty for same-sex relations. Our elders suffer the consequences of these incessant assaults on our rights and dignity. SAGE  remains relentlessly vigilant to fight any effort to turn back the clock on our community.

October 3, 2017

Send in the Singers: Sing for Your Seniors and SAGE

Quentin Earl Darrinton CATS

Quentin Earl Darrinton of Cats performs at SAGE 

 

The idea behind Sing for Your Seniors is simple: Singers brighten up the lives of elders in their community by offering free, uplifting musical performances, live and in person. Music not only brings joy—it can also carry therapeutic value, particularly for older adults who show signs of withdrawal, says Jackie Vanderbeck, the organization’s founder and producing artistic director. Founded 12 years ago, in 2005, Sing for Your Seniors is a New York–based nonprofit organization that has generously donated much of its time to the LGBT elders at SAGE. We recently sat down with Jackie and asked her all about Sing for Your Seniors and its strong relationship with SAGE:

Jackie vanderbeck_SingForYourSeniors
Jackie Vanderbeck, Founder & Producing Artistic Director

SAGE: Hi, Jackie! First things first: What is your personal favorite part of working with Sing for Your Seniors?

Jackie: My favorite part would have to be the connections we make. I love that our artists are getting to know and building relationships with our elder community through the many centers and hospitals we serve. It’s not often these two demographics cross paths in the fast-paced bustle of New York City. Through Sing for Your Seniors, we have built a bridge that strengthens our capacity for compassion, understanding, and inclusion.

SAGE: Sing for Your Seniors has performed at SAGE once a month for around five and a half years, so about 65 times! What makes the SAGE crowd unique compared to other audiences?

Sing for Your Seniors visits a large variety of centers and hospitals all over New York, and SAGE is a favorite among our artists because of their enthusiasm and knowledge of the music we share. Many of our audience at SAGE have worked in the Broadway community or grew up appreciating it. So, while at some of the centers I might encourage our group to choose songs from the golden era, at SAGE I tell them to bring it all—the more obscure the better! We like to try and stump the SAGE crowd. Through this mutual love of music and theatrical storytelling, we have gotten to know each other and really have become a family. It’s beautiful to see our artists hugging and chatting before our session even begins. It’s like a little reunion every time.

SAGE: You’ve had a number of award-winning Broadway performers volunteer with Sing for Your Seniors, many of whom have come to SAGE. How do you get them on board?

Being a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, I am lucky to have a large network of friends in the entertainment industry, many of whom are performing on Broadway. When I am looking to do one of our Broadway Sessions, board member Daniel Torres or I will reach out to someone we know in a particular show to see if they’d like to participate. When possible, we pair a show whose message is poignant to a particular community we serve. For example, I was very passionate about bringing Fun Home to SAGE. Fun Home is the first Broadway musical to have a lesbian protagonist, and I wanted the folks at SAGE to have the opportunity to see what their generation paved the way for. In that session, SAGE enjoyed performances from several members of the original cast, including Tony Award winner Judy Kuhn and Tony Award nominee Beth Malone. Accompanying them on piano was musical director Chris Fenwick, fellow CCM alum and friend, who jumped at the chance to bring the show to SAGE.

We have had cast from 15 shows participate since starting the Broadway Sessions program in 2012. SAGE has received four, with performances by Kinky Boots, Cats, Fun Home, and most recently, War Paint.

 

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The cast of War Paint performs at SAGE

 

SAGE: Beautiful! Any final thoughts?

Performing with Sing for Your Seniors is very freeing for artists in an industry that is still very much developing its awareness for inclusion. Artists can come to our sessions and share with an audience any song they desire without having to think twice about whether or not they are the “right” gender identity, ethnicity, age, sex, or sexual orientation—or simply look the way a character has traditionally been portrayed. By giving artists a space to explore and strengthen their craft in a setting that celebrates all perspectives, not only is it beautifully impactful to our performers and our audiences, but my hope is that we are fostering a louder voice in the inclusion movement.  —Daniel Kessel

Sing for Your Seniors is a New York–based nonprofit organization founded in 2005. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Beth Malone FUN HOME
Beth Malone of Fun Home at SAGE
Annaleigh Ashford KINKY BOOTS
Annaleigh Ashford of Kinky Boots at SAGE