Seniors-serving organizations and businesses have many opportunities to recognize and meet the needs of all seniors, including those from LGBTQ2S+ communities. An organization or business is considered inclusive and affirming of LGBTQ2S+ seniors when those seniors:
- can access programs and services that are appropriate and sensitive to their needs
- can safely access programs and services without fear of discrimination, bullying or having to hide any aspect of their identities
- are recognized and celebrated as a vital part of the broader community
LGBTQ2S+ refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and 2-spirit. The “plus” refers to other identities.
Become more welcoming
Use the strategies below to help your organization or business become more welcoming and supportive of LGBTQ2S+ seniors.
For more information on the historical context, terminology, real-life examples and full details on each strategy, read the full guide:
Alberta Seniors and Housing is interested in hearing about your experiences and successes as you use the guide. Please email a summary of your inclusive services for LGBTQ2S+ seniors, along with any questions or concerns you have, to email@example.com.
Champions and leadership
Act as a champion and ally to create a more welcoming environment in your organization or business for LGBTQ2S+ seniors.
- Bring together natural champions.
- Map out what you are already doing to support LGBTQ2S+ seniors.
- Identify who else should be part of the conversation.
- Connect increased inclusivity with the existing goals and values of your organization or business.
Put the voices and experiences of LGBTQ2S+ seniors at the centre of your efforts to become more inclusive and affirming.
- Engage with, and listen to, voices of individuals who identify as LGBTQ2S+.
- Develop relationships with organizations that have specialized knowledge.
- Provide tangible support and resources for initiatives led by LGBTQ2S+ seniors.
- Conduct a needs assessment.
- Assess and address barriers to community engagement.
- Partner with academic institutions for related research that is specific to your clients / residents.
Review or create policies related to harassment and bullying, confidentiality, data collection, recruitment, performance measurement, and other areas of operation.
- Ensure you have a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy.
- Specifically address homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in policies.
- Create formal avenues for complaints and concerns.
- Ensure your data management and confidentiality practices protect personal information.
- Proactively provide information about your data management policies and confidentiality practices.
- Collect personal data sensitively and purposefully.
- Advertise open positions through media and networks tied to LGBTQ2S+ communities.
- Include questions during interviews that address diversity and inclusion practices and values.
- Add diversity and inclusion outcomes and indicators to your evaluation and performance measurement frameworks.
- Undertake a formal auditing or certification process to assess LGBTQ2S+ inclusiveness.
Environment and experience
Help LGBTQ2S+ seniors feel safe and welcomed in your organization or business through what they see and hear in the physical space.
- Review paperwork and databases to ensure they use inclusive and current language.
- Review forms to ensure you are only collecting personal information that is necessary.
- Ask for and use the pronouns individuals use themselves.
- Ask about and include non-married partners, chosen family and key supports as part of intake, assessment and planning discussions.
- Display visual indicators of LGBTQ2S+ inclusivity.
- Use images and written examples of LGBTQ2S+ seniors in marketing campaigns, social media and print communications.
- Provide all-gender washrooms and change room options (if applicable).
- Invite an LGBTQ2S+ community member or organization to conduct a walkthrough of your organization or business.
Education and training
Provide education and training opportunities regarding LGBTQ2S+ seniors’ experiences and unique considerations for people throughout your organization or business, including staff, volunteers, students / interns, board members, managers and older adults themselves.
- Deliver unconscious bias training for staff and volunteers.
- Demonstrate approaches for staff and volunteers to respectfully engage in discussions about sensitive issues.
- Provide ongoing learning opportunities related to LGBTQ2S+ issues and experiences.
- Publicly display information about your anti-discrimination policies and expectations.
- Provide staff or volunteers with specific strategies, scripts or processes they can use if they see or hear harassment or bullying.
- Integrate concepts of Trauma and Violence-Informed Care into staff and volunteer onboarding and training.
- Raise awareness of LGBTQ2S+ issues in the broader population of seniors who use your services.
Use your programming and services to respond to the needs and interests of LGBTQ2S+ seniors.
- Provide information and resources to help LGBTQ2S+ seniors consider and formalize their wishes in relation to finances, living arrangements, medical care and such.
- Ensure your events and activities are inclusive and welcoming for a wide range of family structures.
- Design initiatives that raise awareness of and celebrate LGBTQ2S+ people.
- Involve your organization or business in broader LGBTQ2S+ community events.
- Facilitate intergenerational initiatives.
- Provide educational programming that addresses the issues and interests of LGBTQ2S+ seniors.
- Offer LGBTQ2S+ services delivered by people who are LGBTQ2S+ or have experience interacting with LGBTQ2S+ communities.
Toolkit Supplement: Society Isolation of Seniors – A Focus on LGBTQ2S+ Seniors in Canada can help increase your awareness and sensitivity. It also helps organizations, businesses, friends, family members and communities address the particular social needs of these seniors.
Connect with the Seniors Strategic Planning Branch: