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The Genny Awards
What a remarkable year 2011 was for LGBT aging!

The Gennys* honor those stories that impacted LGBT older people the most, and the advocates and elders who made these breakthroughs possible.

Counting down to number one, the 2011 Gennys are awarded to the following stories that advanced the cause of LGBT aging:
10. HUD holds LGBT elder Housing Summit
   
  This year marked the first time that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) publically acknowledged the unique housing needs of LGBT elders though a gathering of developers, government agencies and advocates. Read more here
   
9. National Resource Center on LGBT Aging receives nearly 100 requests for cultural competency training
  The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging saw requests from organizations and agencies in 32 states around the country that wish to use its new curriculum to become more sensitive to the needs of LGBT older people. Read more here
   
8. California becomes first state to require LGBT history in public schools
  In July, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law requiring that public schools include the historic contributions of LGBT individuals in social studies curriculum. Read more  here
   
7. Aging professionals convene to address the needs of aging LGBT people of color
  Leaders in the field came together in the nation's capital to begin building a network of professionals serving POC LGBT older people. The historic gathering was called a declaration to transform aging health care for people of color who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Read more here
   
6. Record dollars go to community LGBT health and aging Initiatives
  The acknowledgement of LGBT elders by their own communities grew substantially in 2011 with the awards of local grants to create more services. These included an historic $248,000 grant to the Fenway Institute in Boston, MA. to create a National Training and Technical Assistance Center to help communities improve the health of LGBT populations, including elders.
   
5. First LGBT senior center in the United States is announced.
  Opening of the first full-time center dedicated to serving LGBT older people is scheduled for January, 2012. It will be based in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood but offers a "comprehensive array of services and support" to LGBT elders throughout New York City. Read more here
   
4. First federally funded national study on the health of LGBT older people.
  Working with agencies around the country, the University of Washington study revealed staggering rates of disability, depression and loneliness compared to heterosexuals of similar ages. The statistics have been a part of congressional testimony, and will likely be the supporting evidence for a wave of grant proposals to help LGBT elders. Read more here
   
3. Medicare begins enforcing visitation rights for same-sex couples.
  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has directed all hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid dollars to support a patient's right to choose his/her/zirs own visitors during a hospital stay. Hospitals must also recognize advance directives designating a same-sex partner as someone who can make emergency medical decisions. Hospitals that don't adequately address these rights risk losing all Medicare dollars. In a single policy change, hundreds of thousands of older Americans can now contemplate a hospital stay without fear of being separated from those they love. Read more here
   
2. HHS moves to protect same-sex couples from poverty and homelessness resulting from long-term care
  In April, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that states can provide same-sex domestic partners of long-term care Medicaid beneficiaries the same protections as opposite-sex spouses. This includes not taking away the couples home if a survivor still lives there. The directive (if followed by states) provides America's LGBT older people with a safety net they never have had against homelessness and poverty that can result from caring for a loved one. Read more here
   
1. Justice Department Declines to Defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
  The Obama administration announced in February that the Justice Department would no longer defend DOMA in court. DOMA has blocked access to critically needed federal benefits for elderly same-sex couples, even in states where marriage and/or domestic partnerships are available. The decision brings thousands of LGBT couples closer to eventually receiving Social Security survivor benefits, VA spousal benefits and protections against impoverishment. The American Society on Aging has recommended that aging LGBT couples begin applying for such benefits. While denial is likely in the short term, retroactive payments to those who are denied are a possibility once DOMA is repealed. Read more here
   
*The Gennys are named in honor of the film, "Gen Silent": the documentary that sheds light on the epidemic of LGBT older people going back into the closet in order to survive insensitivity or discrimination in care. Gen Silent also profiles those people fighting to keep elders from being silenced. For more info: http://gensilent.com/

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