DES MOINES (AP) — An Iowa group that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights is turning its attention to a lesser-noticed segment of that population: the aging and elderly.
The group One Iowa hosted its first Iowa senior summit, Gay and Gray, on Saturday at Grand View University in Des Moines, according to the Des Moines Register.
Donna Red Wing, the group’s executive director, said it has heard from people who fear they’ll live out their days in a senior housing facility where they’ll face discrimination. Red Wing said one man at such a facility in southeastern Iowa reported being scared because staff members make homophobic remarks.
“They’re afraid, they’re vulnerable, they may not have the physical stamina they used to,” Red Wing said. “If they’re in assisted care or nursing facilities, they’re going back into the closet — and these are the people that pioneered the movement.”
While Iowa has laws in place to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, Democratic State Sen. Matt McCoy of Des Moines said some elderly members of the LGBT population still face discrimination, especially in rural communities and religious-based housing facilities.
“The way partners are treated or gay and lesbian people are treated in nursing homes is undesirable for how we want to be as a state,” McCoy said.
“Being more open to families that are not traditional, I think, would be the piece that I would like to see Iowa move toward.”