Allentown, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne recently joined legislators, community leaders, and LGBT advocates at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center to participate in an LGBT roundtable discussion as part of a commitment to focus on the needs of the state’s LGBT senior population.
“During the crafting of the 2016-2020 State Plan on Aging, we repeatedly heard calls for the need to better serve and support diverse communities, including the need to bolster and increase cultural competency,” Secretary Osborne said. “By further engaging and communicating with key LGBT community stakeholders, the department has begun to focus much needed attention on the needs of LGBT older adults, many of whom have struggled to simply survive amidst a lifetime of social isolation. Today’s roundtable discussion demonstrates the Wolf Administration’s commitment to serve and protect all of Pennsylvania’s seniors who deserve to live healthy, happy lives with dignity and respect.”
The roundtable discussion, which included State Senator Pat Browne and State Representatives, Peter Schweyer and Mike Schlossberg, provided insight into health challenges for LGBT older adults, challenges for older adults living with HIV, experiences of LGBT older adults in senior-serving organizations, and advocacy for LGBT older adults with LBGT community advocates, including Adrian Shanker (Executive Director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center); Sean Straub (Mayor of Milford, PA and Executive Director of The SERO Project); Patricia Sullivan, Ed.D. (Retired Hospital Administrator); and Jim Palmquist (Advocate and Former AARP of PA President), sharing their insights and experiences.
Specific efforts of the Department of Aging include participating on the Governor’s LGBT Workgroup, acquiring diversity training for department leadership staff and its stakeholders, and evaluating ways to collect appropriate data on LGBT seniors who are accessing services.
“The conversation and advocacy for LGBT older adults must continue to be strengthened and fostered at all levels of government and in communities throughout the country,” said Secretary Osborne. “While the Older Americans Act calls us to be visible and effective advocates for our seniors, the actions steps that have been taken and those being planned underscores our desire to foster a greater understanding of LGBT aging by developing strategies to ensure that every aspect of our long-term services and supports system is accessible, inclusive, welcoming, and culturally sensitive to matters of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center provides arts & culture, health promotion, and youth programs as well as supportive services and a Training Institute to strengthen and support the LGBT community across the Greater Lehigh Valley. For more information visit www.bradburysullivancenter.org.
For more information on the Department of Aging and services for older adults, visit aging.pa.gov.