Inclusive nursing homes good for N.S.

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To the Editor,
Officially, nursing and senior citizens homes in Nova Scotia, are open to gays and lesbians ("Health minister assures sexual orientation not an issue for people requiring long-term care," Feb. 27). That is good news indeed.
The problem - what is officially promoted in policy papers is sometimes seriously compromised when it comes down to an individual gay or a lesbian couple in an actual senior citizens venue.
For one thing, those entering a seniors facility have lived a good part of their lives when being gay or lesbian was considered a sin, or a crime, or a mental illness.
Meaningful policy changes came in the 60s and 70s, but gays and lesbians frequently had a strategy of silence or camouflage. That strategy may well linger on. Genuine sensitivity is called for on the part of staff and other workers in a seniors facility to recognize and support the gay man, the lesbian couple.
For another thing, policy changes are not always followed up by training to sufficiently equip nursing home staffs for gays and lesbians. Without adequate training, professionals may advertently or inadvertently reproduce prejudice and oppression.
There can be, there may be, a wide gap between official policy statements and main street practice.
Now, gays and lesbians can marry in Nova Scotia and anywhere else in Canada. The United Church of Canada has a policy of supporting gay and lesbian marriage, but it depends on local congregations.
If I am not mistaken, there is not a single United Church congregation in Cumberland County that is open to same-gender marriage.
Eldon Hay, Sackville, N.B.

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