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First publication out

The first article to come out of the project has just been published. It is:

“Religious‐based negative attitudes towards LGBTQ people among healthcare, social care and social work students and professionals: A review of the international literature” in Health and Social Care in the Community. It’s open access (meaning anyone can read and/or download it) and can be found here.

There is an end-of-project report in the pipeline. It’s just being proof-read. More to follow!

Project update

The surveys are now closed. They have been complimented by several focus groups, conducted in collaboration with LGBT Foundation, and a number of interviews with LGBT+ people, their advocates and allies. Unfortunately, faith-based care organisations did not respond to invitations to participate in interviews, which is a finding in itself. The findings from the surveys, focus groups and interviews will now be analysed, and the results will be published as soon as possible. A new grant application will be developed in response to the findings. More updates to follow in due course.

Many thanks to all those who have given their time to participate in, and support, the project.

Balancing religious freedoms, sexual orientation rights and gender identity protections in older age care

This blog has recently been published on the British Society of Gerontology’s Ageing Issues website.

One of the major 21st century challenges for tolerance is balancing the rights of those with faith-based objections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans (LGBT+) lives with the rights of LGBT+ people themselves (1) (2). This is most evident in the recent Birmingham faith-based protests about LGBT+ education in schools and the ‘Gay Cake’ case, where Christian bakers refused to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan on it.

With an ageing population and associated growing demands for care, there is increasing reliance on faith-based care organisations (3) and religious care-workers to provide that care. Some may have faith-based objections to doing so. How they experience delivering care to LGBT+ older people, and how LGBT+ older people experience that care is not yet well understood. Indeed such uncomfortable conversations tend to be avoided. (4)

What is already known, however, is that many LGBT+ older people, when anticipating future care needs, are anxious about receiving care from those religious care workers who do not regard LGBT+ people in a favourable light. (5) (6) (7)

There have been some suggestions from recent UK research that staff working in older age care homes who feel uncomfortable working with older LGBT+ people are more likely to have strict religious beliefs which inform their discomfort. (8) (9) This is not to say all people of faith have difficulty working with LGBT+ people. Far from it. And, of course, many older LGBT people are people of faith themselves. (10) Nevertheless, religion can be a site of tension for some, (11) and how that tension is navigated in older age care contexts is not yet well-understood.

I am now conducting a small-scale scoping research project to try and understand what the key issues are, with a view to developing a larger-scale research grant application, possibly with colleagues in Australia, Canada and the US, these issues also having been raised in their respective countries. (12) (13) (14)

The project has recently been granted ethical approval by the University of York, and comprises interviews, focus groups and two confidential surveys, both of which are now open.

  • One survey is for care providers (care workers, managers, and professionals working with older people in health and social care).
  • The other survey is for older LGBT+ people (aged 60+), their friends/family, and advocates/people working for organisations advocating for older LGBT+ people
  • Updates and, eventually, the project’s findings and reports will be posted on the project website. However, if you would like to know more, please email me at: sue.westwood@york.ac.uk. Sue Westwood, York Law School, University of York.

    1. Eskridge Jr, W. N., & Wilson, R. F. (Eds.). (2018). Religious Freedom, LGBT Rights, and the Prospects for Common Ground. Cambridge University Press.
    2. Young, P. D., Shipley, H., & Trothen, T. J. (Eds.). (2015). Religion and sexuality: Diversity and the limits of tolerance. UBC Press.
    3. E.g. Methodist Homes, Order of St John Care Trust, etc.
    4. Carr, S., & Pezzella, A. (2017). Sickness, ‘sin’ and discrimination: Examining a challenge for UK mental health nursing practice with lesbian, gay and bisexual peopleJournal of psychiatric and mental health nursing24(7), 553-560.
    5. Westwood, S. (2015). ‘We see it as being heterosexualised, being put into a care home’: Gender, sexuality and housing/care preferences among older LGB individuals in the UK. Health & social care in the community24(6). DOI: 10.1111/hsc.12265
    6. Hunter, C., Bishop, J-A, and Westwood, S. (2016) The complexity of trans*/gender identities: Implications for dementia care. In S, Westwood and E. Price (eds) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* Individuals Living with Dementia: Concepts, practice and rights. Routledge.
    7. Almack, K. (2018). ‘I didn’t come out to go back in the closet’: Ageing and end-of-life care for older LGBT people. In King, A., Almack, K., Suen, Y-T, Westwood, S. (eds)  Older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans People: Minding the Knowledge Gaps,158-171. Abingdon: Routledge.
    8. Hafford‐Letchfield, T., Simpson, P., Willis, P. B., & Almack, K. (2018). Developing inclusive residential care for older lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people: An evaluation of the Care Home Challenge action research projectHealth & social care in the community26(2), e312-e320, p.e316
    9. Simpson, P., Almack, K., & Walthery, P. (2018). ‘We treat them all the same’: the attitudes, knowledge and practices of staff concerning old/er lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans residents in care homes. Ageing & Society, 38(5), 869-899.
    10. Westwood, S. (2017). Religion, sexuality, and (in) equality in the lives of older lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the United Kingdom. Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging29(1), 47-69.
    11. Westwood, S., & Knocker, S. (2016). 11 One-day training courses on LGBT* awareness–are they the answer?. In S, Westwood and E. Price (eds) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* Individuals Living with Dementia: Concepts, practice and rights. Routledge.
    12. Riseman, N. (2018) Religious freedom and the rights of LGBTI people: Lessons of recent history.
    13. Fredriksen-Goldsen, K. I., Hoy-Ellis, C. P., Goldsen, J., Emlet, C. A., & Hooyman, N. R. (2014). Creating a vision for the future: Key competencies and strategies for culturally competent practice with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults in the health and human servicesJournal of gerontological social work57(2-4), 80-107.
    14. Furlotte, C., Gladstone, J. W., Cosby, R. F., & Fitzgerald, K. A. (2016). “Could we hold hands?” Older lesbian and gay couples’ perceptions of long-term care homes and home care. Canadian Journal on Aging/La Revue canadienne du vieillissement, 35(4), 432-446.

    Why this project?

    Faith-based protests about same-sex education and the controversial ‘Gay Cake’ case highlight how religious freedoms and sexual orientation rights challenge pluralist tolerance. Faith-based organisations and religious care workers routinely provide care to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans+ people, especially in older age care homes.  Anecdotal reports suggest religious views underpin the attitudes of those care-workers who are uncomfortable caring for LGBT+ people, affecting the quality of that care. This project will build a collaborative research network which sets a research agenda for a research grant application which will explore the intersection of religion, sexual orientation and gender identity in older care provision.

    Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

    This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

    You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

    Why do this?

    • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
    • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

    The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

    To help you get started, here are a few questions:

    • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
    • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
    • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
    • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

    You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

    Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

    When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

    Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

    This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

    You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

    Why do this?

    • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
    • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

    The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

    To help you get started, here are a few questions:

    • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
    • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
    • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
    • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

    You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

    Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

    When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.