During our early years, we are taught appropriate norms and behaviors, including how to interact with others of the same or opposite sex within households, communities and work places. When individuals or groups do not “fit” the established gender norms, they often face discrimination in almost all aspects of their lives.

LGBT youth and older LGBTs each face their own set of unique challenges. LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience challenges in their lives and school environments. These challenges can include stigma, discrimination, violence, and rejection by families and communities. Children who are perceived by their peers as being different such as having a disability, practicing their religion, or identified as LGBT are at a higher risk of being bullied. It is important to build a safe environment for all youth, whether they are straight or LGBT. LGBT awareness has led school districts to adopt policies that protect LGBT students. All youth can thrive when they feel supported. Parents, schools, and communities can all play a role in helping LGBT youth feel physically and emotionally safe.

Many LGBT older adults fear discrimination or harassment if their sexual orientations or gender identities become known. Discrimination can lead to financial insecurity and isolation for many LGBT older adults. Research suggests that LGBT older adults are less likely than their heterosexual peers to access aging services and to reach out to providers, senior centers, meal programs and other entitlement programs. Older LGBTs are often invisible to mainstream elder service providers. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded access to health insurance coverage for millions, including LGBT individuals, and includes specific protections related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Cultural competence refers to one’s ability to be aware that there are many different cultures and having an awareness that every culture has unique variables that affect the individual. To be competent, we must be aware of these variables and learn how to respond respectfully and appropriately.  The term culture goes beyond race and ethnicity.  It can also refer to such characteristics as age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, income level and education.  Having an awareness of cultural differences allows cross-cultural groups to work together effectively. It is important to be sensitive and respectful of cultural differences and work together toward a more inclusive and tolerant world.  OCES aspires to welcome everyone without exception!  Whether you are looking for help or are interested in helping others, we are here to support you!

Here are some helpful links.