WASHINGTON, DC – The Council of the District of Columbia’s Committee on Government Operations, chaired by Councilmember Brandon Todd, today heard testimony from Gertrude Stein Democratic Club president Kent Boese on the Care for LGBTQ Seniors and Seniors with HIV Amendment Act of 2019. The hearing followed the Stein Club’s unanimous vote at its January General Body Meeting in favor of the bill, which aims to increase anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ seniors and seniors living with HIV.
Boese began his testimony by highlighting the advances in HIV/AIDS care and stated that while stigma around HIV is on the decline, it has not been eradicated. Boese spoke of the very real challenges that people living with HIV face, and how those challenges are compounded with age and decreased self-dependency.
At the January Meeting of the Stein Club, several members shared stories of seniors in the District who had experienced discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as barriers to treatment and medication in assisted living facilities. In his testimony, Boese pointed out that these seniors often do not have the resources to fight back against the injustices that they face in assisted living facilities, and are forced to suffer in silence. Boese stated that while the DC Office of Human Rights has been a reliable resource for the LGBTQ community, the underfunded agency is currently severely backlogged to the peril of some of the District’s most vulnerable residents.
Boese went on to state that the Care for LGBTQ Seniors and Seniors with HIV Amendment Act of 2019 seeks to remedy those challenges by establishing a Bill of Rights for LGBTQ seniors housed in assisted living or long-term care facilities which would mandate LGBTQ cultural competency training for staff and management at assisted living and long-term care facilities.
In his conclusion Boese stated that while this bill is a big step in the right direction, “The Stein Club is aware of other bills beneficial to the LGBTQ community that seem to be stalled in various Council committees…the Stein Club has taken notice and will be active participants to ensure good legislation does not die in committee so that our community’s needs are being addressed." (PDF Version of Press Release)