LGBT Protections in Long-Term Care Facilities

Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 219 (view here(link is external)) into law – a bill aimed at protecting LGBT seniors from discrimination in long-term care facilities. The bill adds specific protections for LGBT residents of skilled nursing facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, and intermediate care facilities and enacts a Bill of Rights for LGBT Long-Term Care Facility Residents. Specifically, SB 219 prohibits long-term care facilities and their staff from, among other things, denying admission, transferring, or evicting a resident based on the person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or HIV status; willfully and repeatedly failing to use a residents preferred name or pronouns after being clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns; prohibiting or harassing a resident who uses or seeks to use a restroom available to other persons of the same gender identity; and denying, based on the residents’ sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or HIV status, requests by residents to share a room. Facilities are also required to post a specific non-discrimination policy related to the LGBTQ Bill of Rights along with their current nondiscrimination policy postings.
While the state and, in some instances, local laws already prohibit discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and HIV status, discrimination persists in the long-term care facility setting. By specifically prohibiting certain discriminatory acts and specifying remedies, SB 219 seeks to inform LGBT residents of their rights, provide the means to vindicate them, and ultimately, reduce such harmful discrimination.
In addition to protections for LGBT residents, SB 219 also provides privacy protections for all long-term facility residents. Specifically, SB 219 prohibits staff who are not directly involved in providing care from being present when a resident is receiving a physical exam or personal care and is fully or partially undressed, unless the resident provides his or her express permission. Facilities are further required  to use visual privacy boundaries for residents whenever they are partially of fully unclothed.