New law creates LGBT 'Bill of Rights' for California assisted living, nursing home residents

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California Gov. Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr.
California Gov. Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr.

A bill signed into law Oct. 4 by California Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr. establishes a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Long-Term Care Facility Residents' Bill of Rights to protect LGBT older adults in the state from discrimination or mistreatment in assisted living communities and nursing homes.

“The LGBT Senior Bill of Rights is an important step in our fight to ensure all people are treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said the author of S.B. 219, California Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat.

The new state law requires facilities to refer to residents by their preferred name or pronoun and prohibits facilities from denying admission, involuntarily discharging, evicting or transferring a resident within a facility or to another facility based on anti-LGBT attitudes of other residents or a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression or HIV status. Facilities also are required to post a notice regarding LGBT discrimination where the current nondiscrimination policy is posted.

“Many of our elders have no children or other family members to care for them and are especially vulnerable to abuse or neglect in long-term care,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, which sponsored the legislation. “S.B. 219 will help ensure that care facilities provide culturally competent care,” he added.

S.B. 219 was co-authored by California Assembly members David Chiu, Sabrina Cervantes, Todd Gloria and Ash Kalra, all Democrats. It was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, APLA Health, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Justice in Aging, FORGE, the California chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Source LGBT + Center and the Transgender Law Center.

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