"By removing these questions, ACL will blind itself to the experiences and needs of LGBT elders and people with disabilities."
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is proposing to remove a sexual orientation question from the 2017 version of the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants and sexual orientation and gender identity fields from the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living.
"ACL's mission is to provide programs and services that maximize the independence, well-being, and health of older adults and people with disabilities," said Dr. Kerith Conron, Research Director of the Williams Institute. "By removing these questions, ACL will blind itself to the experiences and needs of LGBT elders and people with disabilities."
The National Survey of Older American Act Participants is an annual survey conducted by ACL that provides critical feedback on programs funded by Title III of the Older Americans Act, including meal programs and transportation services. Prior versions of this survey included a question on sexual orientation--among other personal demographic characteristics--but ACL is now proposing to remove only the sexual orientation question and has not explained its reason for doing so.
Centers for Independent Living are federally-funded programs to promote the ability of people with disabilities to live independently. Each year, Centers for Independent Living complete program performance reports that allow ACL to assess whether they are achieving their objectives and are in compliance with the Rehabilitation Act. In January 2017, ACL published a draft of the Annual Program Performance Report that included a section on clientele demographics that included--among other personal characteristics--sexual orientation and transgender identity. These data would have allowed Centers for Independent Living, as well as ACL, to determine whether LGBT people with disabilities were accessing services. ACL, however, now has removed the sexual orientation and transgender identity fields without explanation.
Data collection by ACL on the experiences and needs of LGBT elders and people with disabilities is all the more crucial given that research finds that many LGBT elders and people with disabilities are isolated, have experienced and fear further discrimination, and face health disparities. For example, in LGBT Aging: A Review of Research Findings, Needs, and Policy Implications (1), Williams Institute researchers Soon Kyu Choi and Ilan H. Meyer, Ph.D., reviewed what is known about LGBT older adults.
1 - https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/LGBT-Aging-A-Review.pdf
The original rainbow flag, called the Freedom Flag, was devised by Gilbert Baker in 1978. The design has undergone several revisions since its debut with 8 colored stripes, and today the most common variant consists of 6 stripes: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.
Picture of Gilbert Baker's original Freedom Flag showing the meaning of the 8 colors.