Trenton – In effort to better protect the State’s elderly population, yesterday the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Richard Codey and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz that would require discrimination prevention training for certain providers of services to senior citizens.
“Discrimination against transgender seniors is pervasive within long-term care facilities throughout the country, with many residents reporting that they or a loved one had experienced a refusal by staff to refer to them by their preferred name or pronouns,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex/Morris). “This abrasive treatment makes living in these facilities extremely difficult for LGBTQIA+ seniors, as basic services such as bathing, toileting, feeding, and medical treatment become deeply stressful experiences. It is unacceptable that nursing home service providers and their employees can discriminate against some residents simply due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Senior citizens are more alone right now than they have ever been before, and it is imperative that we put the proper measures in place to ensure equal treatment for all of our State’s senior citizens.”
The bill, S-1459, would require the Commissioner of Human Services, or their designee, to develop, approve, select, or designate a training program that is designed to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression in the delivery of services to LGBTQIA+ senior citizens.
“No one at any age should face discrimination because of their identity or who they decide to love,” Said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “This legislation will help and support staff at our long term care facilities to care for all of their residents, which often reflect the rich diversity of our state. All of our seniors deserve a safe living environment where they are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”
Under the bill, the training program would be designed to increase awareness among, and provide cultural competency to, service providers and their employees about the issues encountered by LGBTQIA+ seniors, in order to ensure equal access to services for all senior citizens as well as improve the delivery of those services to senior citizens and their caregivers
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 7-0.