LGBT Elder Initiative hosts advocacy panel

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Celena Morrison (top left), executive director of the Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs, joined a virtual roundtable hosted by the LGBT Elder Initiative. Other participants included Rafael Alvarez Febo (bottom left), executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, and Aaron Tax (bottom right), director of advocacy at SAGE. Sandra Thompson (top right), board chair of the LGBT Elder Initiative, served as moderator. The panel discussed local, state, and federal advocacy efforts to support older LGBTQ adults.

“There’s no doubt 2020 has been a difficult year for all of us,” Morrison said. “But the most marginalized in our society, especially our LGBTQ elders have disproportionately felt the challenges of this pandemic. Since the onset of the pandemic the [Office of LGBT Affairs] has dedicated focus to ensuring that queer Philadelphians including elders, youth, and people with disabilities have access to the critical recovery resources that are affirming to the community. Moving forward, our focus on creating greater equality for our vulnerable communities will be more critical than ever. So we’ll be building the office’s capacity to facilitate access to services for our elders. That’s just one of the ways we’ll ensure a recovery that is targeted on supporting our communities with the greatest need.”

Panelists also discussed issues including data collection, housing, and the importance of anti-LGBTQ discrimination legislation for LGBTQ seniors, who often rely on public services and accomodations. Pennsylvania currently does not have statewide LGBTQ nondiscrimination legislation.