Skip To Main content Skip Global Navigation

Come Out as an LGBT Elder Justice Ally

By Sherrill Wayland, MSW, Director of National Education Initiatives of SAGE

October 01, 2019

Headshot of Kendra Kuehn “All people, regardless of age or ability, have the right to live their lives with justice, dignity, and respect, free from abuse of any kind. (ACL) The keywords here are “ALL people,” not some. I call attention to this quote because historically, LGBT people have been invisible to systems of elder justice.

Several years ago I attended a presentation on elder abuse and neglect. As I listened to the panel, it became clear.  The experiences of isolation, verbal harassment, and neglect of LGBT people by caregivers is elder abuse and neglect.

I asked the panel how we could better educate the LGBT community about elder abuse and neglect and encourage reporting. The lawyer on the panel indicated they were not sure if elder abuse laws extended to LGBT people, due to a lack of LGBT state and federal non-discrimination laws.  This comment haunted me for years. How could a law that was meant to extend to all – leave out LGBT older adults and people with disabilities?

The story I share above took place over ten years ago. Since that time, I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the National Center on Elder Abuse. Through this collaboration, we develop educational materials to empower the LGBT community and aging network to stand in support of Elder Justice.

Each October, the LGBT community celebrates national coming out day.  A day where people often find the strength and courage to share their authentic selves as an LGBT person with their friends and family. This October, I encourage the aging network to Come Out as an LGBT Elder Justice Ally. Start today by sharing the Elder Justice resources developed by NCEA and SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging to include the LGBT community:

LGBT Older People Built the LGBT Community

This fact sheet provides useful information organizations can use to help support Elder Justice within the LGBT community.

Paying it Back: Promoting Justice for LGBT Communities of All Ages

LGBT people often form “families of choice” to help support LGBT loved ones. This fact sheet provides information on Elder Justice for the LGBT community.

LGBT Older People: Our Right to a Peaceful Life

The fact sheet provides Elder Justice Information for LGBT people – providing knowledge to stand up for their rights.

Looking for Love

This fact sheet provides information on Sweet Heart scams designed to inform LGBT older adults on risks and ways to protect themselves.

Mistreatment of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Elders (2013)

This RESEARCH BRIEF synthesizes the latest available information and research relating to the mistreatment of LGBT elders. Information is provided on the occurrence of abuse, isolation as a risk factor, issues affecting help seeking, and tips for working with LGBT elders.

Elder Justice is for All not some!

Safe Exit