Put “A. S.T.O.P.P.” to Institutionalized Heterosexism : The Issue

Framework to Facilitate the Social Inclusion of Gay and Lesbian Seniors and to Reduce Heterosexism

The following recommendations are taken from The Health and Social Service Needs of Gay and Lesbian Seniors and their Families in Canada by Shari Brotman, Bill Ryan and Elizabeth Meyer, 2006. The recommendations could be used as a framework developing education, programs, policies and practices that are inclusive of gay and lesbian seniors and their perspectives. If the recommendations were turned around as questions they could guide the examination of organizations and policies for homophobia and heterosexism.

Put “A. S.T.O.P.P.” to institutionalized homophobia and heterosexism through:

Advocacy

  • Develop sensitive residential and long term care services
  • Create the conditions for sensitive homecare services
  • Increase visibility in social agencies and within the health care system

Social & Political Voice

  • Promote advocacy for seniors
  • Create empowering conditions for seniors within social organizations
  • Create opportunities for like-minded seniors to meet socially
  • Celebrate seniors’ diversity in social organizations and agencies

Training & Education

  • Offer gay and lesbian specific curriculum in university settings
  • Make available training programs for professionals working in health care systems, social services agencies, and homecare services – Trainers and curriculum materials are available in Vancouver, Halifax, Toronto and Montreal.
  • Educate social groups and organizations on gay and lesbian seniors’ needs
  • Train providers to understand, follow, or challenge current policies and legislation on temporary or alternate decision makers in their regions.

Outreach

  • Develop sensitive outreach programs to seniors and their families with specific emphasis on multiply marginalized populations such as: rural, First Nations, poor, and ethnic and racial minority communities.

Policy

  • Create options inside gay/lesbian and mainstream sectors
  • Create opportunities for dialogue between sectors
  • Create a “families of choice” policy
  • Decision making and long term planning
  • Caregiving and informal support networks
  • Lobby for increased funding for programs
  • Incorporate of sexual orientation into “diversity” agenda

Practice

  • Create environments of recognition and support
  • Adapt assessments-ask the right questions
  • Talk about sexuality
  • Include families of choice in decision-making
  • Develop best practices
  • Recognize complex psychosocial issues
  • Identity: coming-out, self-identification, identification with community
  • Vulnerability: Impact of life-long exposure to stigma
  • Isolation: Managing stigma, exposure to discrimination