With America increasingly focusing on the needs of the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, it’s easy to forget that different groups within that community often require even more attention. Elderly LGBTQ individuals often have concerns that go well beyond more publicly-debated issues like marriage equality and bathroom laws. For many seniors, discrimination in housing and other areas of basic living have been a reality for many decades – and many elderly LGBTQ persons often suffer in silence, without the advocacy that they deserve. A new program called SAGE Miami hopes to change that dynamic.
The group launching the new program is called Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE USA), and it’s partnering with Jewish Community Services of South Florida (JCS) to provide services to Miami-Dade County’s elderly LGBTQ community. SAGE Miami will focus on helping those seniors with issues ranging from social services to education. It’s the type of thing both SAGE USA and JCS have been engaged in for some time now.
The Partnership: SAGE and JCS
The program was launched at Temple Israel of Greater Miami in a celebratory event that brought together speakers from JCS, SAGE Miami’s new program director, and former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Ruth Shack, who provided the keynote address. Shack is perhaps best known for her sponsorship of the County’s 1977 Human Rights Ordinance.
SAGE USA is a national organization with a 20-state network that includes 30 affiliates. That network will provide SAGE Miami with the ability to quickly mobilize and provide community programming and services to benefit elderly LGBTQ residents in the county.
Meanwhile, JCS brings its own vast resources and knowledge base to the partnership. JCS has been providing services to older residents in the area since 1920. Its focus on assisting LGBTQ elders officially began in 2010, and the group’s new relationship with SAGE will see it expand the programming that it provides to that community. As JCS president and CEO Fred Stock noted, the new partnership is a natural evolution in the work that JCS has long been engaged in with seniors in the area. He focused particular attention on the issue of housing for LGBTQ seniors in the area:
“There is a lack of what I would call LGBTQ friendly affordable housing in this community. Now it’s acknowledged there are issues with affordable housing in a general sense, but most of the housing that’s available in this particular community is not friendly towards the LGBTQ community.”
Together, SAGE Miami and JCS plan to devote programs and assistance toward resolving issues like housing discrimination – something that many seniors often struggle to address on their own. For many LGBTQ seniors, discrimination has been something that they’ve lived with all their lives. Often, elderly individuals even become so accustomed to facing housing and employment discrimination that they aren’t even sure how to begin to confront the issue. Of course, discrimination is but one of the issues confronting LGBTQ seniors in the county.
A Host of Needs
Like the elderly in many other communities, LGBTQ seniors often confront issues like loneliness and social isolation. There are also deep cultural divides separating them from many of their elderly peers in the area, and many are left to live on their own. Poverty is a noteworthy concern as well, and many of these seniors don’t have the core support that seniors in other communities might take for granted. That can lead to a lack of caregiving as well, and healthcare concerns that would ordinarily be addressed through support systems.
SAGE Miami has plans to tailor its programming to address many of the most pressing concerns. Its efforts will include training for healthcare workers and social service providers to ensure that they have the cultural awareness to properly serve the LGBTQ community. There will also be an emphasis on providing opportunities for LGBTQ individuals to become more socially active, make new friends and learn to support one another. Finally, SAGE will offer in-office and at-home counseling on an individual and group basis.
A Welcome Addition to the Area
Programs like this are a welcome addition to the community in and around Miami-Dade County. Seniors struggle in many areas of Florida, and LGBTQ seniors often face added hardships that often go unaddressed by the broader community. Without special attention from projects like this, many of those seniors’ voices would never be heard, and their issues would go unaddressed for far too long. Obviously, no single program can work miracles overnight, but the launch of SAGE Miami should bring some much-needed attention to the problems confronting the most senior members of the area’s LGBTQ community.
We’re Always Here to Help
Elderly LGBTQ residents often have special legal issues to contend with as well. In addition to discrimination based on their age, they often face added difficulties related to their sexual preference and identity. Many experience abuses that can range from physical and emotional mistreatment to financial crimes. Often, there is no one there to advocate on their behalf, and they suffer in silence. And, of course, LGBTQ seniors can experience unique challenges when it comes to estate planning and providing a legacy for their loved ones. They deserve to have someone in their corner, fighting to ensure that their interests and rights are properly protected.
At Kulas & Crawford, we’ve had a long-running commitment to providing our friends and neighbors in the LGBTQ community with the widest possible array of LGBTQ estate planning services and elder law assistance. We understand the complicated challenges that can make estate planning more difficult than it should be, and we have the solutions you need to craft the ideal plan for your needs. Our expertise in both LGBTQ and elder law concerns makes us uniquely qualified to assist lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gendered seniors in the area with their most pressing issues. If you’d like to find out more about how our team can help you with all your most important legal worries, contact us online or call us today at (772) 398-0720.