Community Centers, Organized Labor, and Civil Rights Organizations Join Fight to Protect the Dignity of LGBTQ Seniors and Long-Term Care Residents
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today applauded the broad coalition of organizations, workers, and legal scholars all fighting in support of the state’s efforts to defend anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ residents of long-term care facilities in California. The coalition — made up of organized labor, community centers, civil rights organizations, legal scholars, and more — filed letter briefs with the California Supreme Court in support of the protections granted under Senate Bill 219 (SB 219), the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights. Specifically, the law prohibits long-term care facility staff from discriminating against transgender residents by repeatedly and willfully “deadnaming” them — that is, calling a transgender person by the name they were assigned at birth — or using the wrong pronouns in referring to them.
“California law is clear on its protections for LGBTQ+ Americans,” said Attorney General Bonta. “And the reality is that people across labor, civil rights organizations, and academia agree: There’s no place for discrimination in our laws. Repeatedly and willfully misgendering someone is harassment. SB 219 is a critical law that helps ensure all people in long-term care are treated with dignity and respect. We stand united in this fight — and we respectfully urge the California Supreme Court to restore SB 219 in full.”
In multiple letter briefs filed on behalf of dozens of organizations, the diverse coalition raises a wide range of arguments urging the California Supreme Court to review the case and noting their support for SB 219. For instance, state and national LGBTQ+ civil rights organizations shared how misgendering can negatively impact health outcomes, highlighting the case of a lesbian woman in her 80s who — despite going by the name "Rusty" her entire adult life — consistently experienced isolation and exclusion as a result of staff repeatedly using her given name instead. In addition, representatives from organized labor asserted their broad opposition to discrimination and support for SB 219 as a crucial tool for all residents to receive equitable care. Further, leading scholars in social work, gerontology, and social sciences highlighted research showing that transgender seniors experience significant health disparities, as well as reported and actual experiences of discrimination in long-term care facilities — with more than 89% of survey respondents in one study expressing fear that staff would discriminate against an LGBTQ+ person in long-term care.
Copies of the letter briefs in support of California’s petition for review are available in the online version of this release here.