By: Denny Chan and Vanessa Barrington. Published by: Justice in Aging. Published in: June 2016
LGBT older adults often require legal services to address barriers beyond the common legal issues other low-income older adults face. For example, many LGBT individuals suffer housing or employment discrimination,or need legal help to ensure access to spousal benefits. Additionally, transgender older adults may have specific legal needs related to their gender identity, such as accessing name change documents. Because there are currently no legal services organizations that specialize in the intersecting needs of low-income and LGBT older adults, Justice in Aging asserts that all legal services need to be prepared to address the distinct needs of LGBT older adults.
The first section of this special report focuses on the role discrimination plays in the higher rates of poverty in the LGBT community in relation to the larger population. The second section identifies the most pressing legal issues affecting older low-income LGBT individuals, including health disparities and discrimination in health care, fighting housing discrimination, and assistance with name change documents and paperwork. The third section focuses on best practices for legal service organizations regarding outreach, intakes, and providing a welcoming environment for this population.
The report concludes by encouraging legal services to gain competence in the legal issues facing this group, finding creative ways to reach older LGBT individuals who need help, and developing the cultural competency to build trust.