Florida Conference Focuses on Improving Services and Support for LGBT Seniors
New York, May 7, 2012— Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic participated in the first White House LGBT Conference on Aging in Miami, Florida. The Conference brought together federal government officials; national and state advocates; and the public to focus on the health, housing, and economic security needs of aging members of the LGBT community.
“LGBT seniors too often face discrimination, mistreatment, and social isolation. Moreover, programs aimed at providing resources to the senior population inadequately address the needs of the LGBT community,” said Hillary Schneller ’12, a clinic student who attended the Conference. “The Conference provides a critical opportunity to engage the White House on these issues and to discuss changes to federal and state policies, especially in states like Florida that have a significant elder population.”
Schneller and Andrea Johnson ’12 worked with Equality Florida, the state’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to advocacy on behalf of LGBT people, to prepare for the Conference by identifying changes to laws and policies that can improve the lives of LGBT seniors. Their recommendations focus on better access to and financial support for caregiving, health care, and housing through both state legislative and agency-level initiatives.
The White House Office of Public Engagement, in partnership with the University of Miami Center on Aging, hosted the day-long symposium, featuring keynote remarks by Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and Raphael Bostic, Assistant Secretary for Policy & Research Development at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Equality Florida, as well as SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders), the first official LGBT delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in 2005, were also among the participants.
Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic addresses cutting-edge issues in sexuality and gender law through litigation, legislation, public policy analysis and other forms of advocacy. Under the guidance of Professor Suzanne Goldberg, clinic students have worked on a wide range of projects, from constitutional litigation to legislative advocacy to immigration cases, to serve both individual and organizational clients in cases involving issues of sexuality and gender law.