Aging with Pride

About Aging with Pride

Together with our partners, BC Care Providers Association and EngAge BC are working with seniors living and wellness operators to help improve 2SLGBTQI+ (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and those who identify as part of sexual and gender diverse communities, who use additional terminologies) competency across the sector. 

This page includes background information and resources that can be helpful for operators, the people they support, as well as 2SLGBTQI+ people, communities, and their families. 

Why does 2SLGBTQI+ competency matter? 

Although it can be challenging to find accurate statistics, it is estimated that anywhere between three and 10 per cent of older adults identify as 2SLGBTQI+. Many older adults in the 2SLGBTQI+ community have faced a lifetime of systemic discrimination and oppression based on their sexuality and gender identities. As a result, they are often fearful of entering seniors’ living residences or care homes because they feel that they will have to hide their sexuality or moderate their gender expression. In order to create safe, welcoming, and inclusive environments that provide seniors with living, wellness, and care support, the community must foster competency in understanding and supporting 2SLGBTQI+ people. 

Letting 2SLGBTQI+ seniors know your organization is inclusive

It is important to celebrate 2SLGBTQI+ competency and let potential clients know that they can expect to be supported in a way that feels safe and inclusive. 


EngAge BC’s Route 65 free online search service includes a way for operators to indicate that they are 2SLGBTQI+ inclusive. By activating a pride icon on their listing, operators can let seniors who are searching for seniors living options in B.C. know that they, at minimum, have the following in place: 

Foundational and ongoing training and education on equity and inclusion for sexual and gender diversity, as well as training specifically focused on working with older adults who identify as 2SLGBTQI+. This education should be integrated into the organization’s onboarding process for all staff.

A system in place to review forms, policies and procedures and address any overt or covert discrimination or marginalization (e.g., binary gender options).

Hiring and employment efforts to ensure that the organization’s staff reflect the diversity of the community being served. 

A visible statement of support for the 2SLGBTQI+ community. This can include a mandate, a client rights statement or an anti-discrimination policy, and activities such as celebrating days of significance (e.g., Pride Month).

An accessible mechanism for input from 2SLGBTQI+ clients, including programming, quality of care, etc.

A system in place which allows the organization to proactively address incidents or experiences of discrimination or marginalization should they occur. 

Resources for seniors living and wellness operators

Below are resources which might be helpful in building your organization’s competency or supporting clients. Know of a great resource? Let us know!

PrismPrism is Vancouver Coastal Health’s education, information, and referral program for the LGBTQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and twospirit) communities, providing workshops and training for service providers, community members, students and service users on inclusion, diversity and promoting health and wellness for the LGBTQ2S communities.

Qmunity QMUNITY is B.C.’s queer resource centre and hub for the lesbian, gay, trans, bisexual and queer community program, training, and advocacy.  

Rainbow Health Ontario Training and EducationRainbow Health Ontario provides training and education to improve the accessibility and quality of healthcare services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer communities in Ontario. Additionally, their website provides a free resource library where you can find information on various topics, including making electronic health records more inclusive for 2SLGTQI+ people.

Dignity Seniors SocietyResources for 2SLGBTQI+ seniors on housing, health, community building, and financial planning.

AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC)Free and confidential support for women, men, and trans survivors of sexual assault. 604-827-5180

THiP  – Transgender Health Information Program. 604-734-1514,

Human Rights for Trans People in BCBarbara Findlay Q.C. provides educational material that supports trans people in navigating the process of filing a human rights complaint in B.C. Check out “A booklet in the Out/Law series.”

The Crisis CentreThe Crisis Centre provides emotional support to youth, adults, and seniors in distress. As a safe place to turn when there seems to be no hope. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 604-872-3311

Rainbow Refugee Canada Rainbow Refugee Committee (RRC) is a Vancouverbased community group that supports and advocates with people seeking refugee protection because of persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status.

Mosaic – I Belong supports LGBTQIA2+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning) immigrant newcomers by facilitating discussions around sexuality, gender, race, culture, and class.

Dignity Seniors SocietyResources that give service providers insights into the lived experiences, challenges, hopes and needs of community members.

Island Health – LGBTQ2+ Resources on Vancouver Island The Developing Inclusive and Affirming Care For LGBTQ2+ Seniors toolkit was developed by Nicole Tremblay, Clinical Educator with the Island Health Practice Support Team, with input and assistance from the LGBTQ2+ Seniors Advisory Council.

Vancouver Coastal Health – Supporting Sexual Health and Intimacy in Care Facilities Guidelines for Supporting Adults Living in Long-Term Care Facilities and Group Homes in British Columbia, Canada Vancouver Coastal Health Authority

Fraser Health Diversity Resources  – Guide to providing health care services to specific cultural groups, as well as LGBTQ2S+ British Columbians.

Toronto: LGBT Tool Kit, Long Term Care Homes & Services 2017In 2008, the City of Toronto, Long-Term Care Homes & Services published the LGBT Tool Kit for Creating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Culturally Competent Care at Toronto Long-Term Care Homes and Services. In 2017, the Tool Kit was updated and refreshed. To access the toolkit, please email

Alberta Health – LGBTQ2S+ Resources for Care Providers Resources to help enhance awareness, confidence, knowledge, and skills to create safer and more welcoming care for sexual and gender diverse clients/LGBTQ2S+ clients.

Alberta Health’s Tips to Support LGBTQ2S+ Friendly Activity Programming in Continuing Care This resource aims to increase awareness, knowledge, and skills among continuing care staff to create or facilitate LGBTQ2S+ friendly activities or recreation programs for clients

SFU’s Resources of LGBT End of Life Conversations Website provides a list of resources related to end-of-life conversations for LGBT people and their families.

National Resource Centre on 2SLGBTQI Aging The website offers resources and recommendations on a variety of topics related to 2SLGBTQI aging, such as end-of-life care planning, housing and long-term care, as well as a resource map for 2SLBGTQI older adults.

Diversity and Inclusion in Long-Term Care is an easy-to-use web of resources that are organized into topics such as resources for 2SLGBTQ+ Seniors, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Long-Term Care Settings, or general information. 

Centres for Learning, Research & Innovation in Long-Term Care This website offers resources and toolkits to support inclusion and diversity in long-term care homes. It aims to help these homes become safe, welcoming, and inclusive spaces for the LGBTQI2S+ community, promoting equity and respectful care.

Long-time activist Chris Morrissey speaks openly about the experiences of her and her late partner Bridget with the care system as a lesbian. With great humour and charm, she talks about the importance of having staff and the care setting being queer positive.

Big thanks to Chris and to Darren at Dignity Seniors Society for supporting this work.

EngAge BC has come up with some ways to celebrate Pride and to mark the achievements of decades of advocacy by the Queer community.   

Display a 2SLGBTQI+ timeline: Older adults have experienced a significant number of historical and socio-political events which have informed their life experiences. Display a timeline of the most significant milestones. For example:  

  • 1967: Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau introduces the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69, an omnibus bill reforming the Criminal Code, which liberalizes Canadian law around social issues such as homosexuality.
  • 1969: Canada decriminalizes homosexual acts between consenting adults with the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, first introduced in December 1968.  
  • 1973 –The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.  
  • 2005 -July 20: The federal Civil Marriage Act, legalizing same-sex marriage across Canada, is given royal assent.  

Decorate your residence: Bring some pride into your residence by decorating.   

Have a best dressed contest: Bring out residents’ competitive side by challenging them to a pride themed t-shirt decorating contest, or best dressed activity.   

Host a movie night: If your residence holds regular movie nights, consider bringing in films which focus on 2SLGBTQ+ characters. Even better if they focus on older 2SLGBTQ+ characters – for example, A Secret Love.   

Hold a pride themed trivia event: Did you know that Grey’s Anatomy features the longest running 2SLGBTQ+ character in TV history? We didn’t!  

Make your happy hour festive: Offer rainbow cocktails (or mocktails) to your residents or offer other festive treats.   

Bring the Community in: Partner with a local pride society, or 2SLGBTQI+ to bring entertainment into your residence. Drag queen brunch anyone?  

While holding pride activities at your residence is an important way to build community and indicate that you support the 2SLGBTQI+ community, there are other important steps you can take to build inclusivity. For example:  

  • Create a task force to consider your policies and forms (e.g., are your forms limited to binary gender options?).  
  • Revisit your onboarding processes (e.g., does it include foundational education about working with older 2SLGBTQ+ older adults?).  
  • Host an inclusion workshop for staff.  
  • Book a speaker.  
  • Consider how and where symbols of allyship (i.e., the Pride flag) are used year-round. They can be an important way to communicate that your residence is striving to be a safe and inclusive space for the Queer community, and that your residence is taking action to ensure that staff are educated and informed about supporting older 2SLGBTQ+ residents. Not only can this communicate that residents can expect an inclusive environment, but it can also indicate this to family members and friends who identify as 2SLGBTQ+.   

2SLGBTQI+: An acronym for Two-Spirit people, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and people who identify as part of a sexual and gender diverse community, who use additional terminologies. Other acronyms you may see include LGBTQ2+ or LGBTI.  

Sex: Refers to a person’s biological attributes, primarily associated with physical and physiological features such as chromosomes, genes, hormones, and reproductive anatomy. Sex can be characterized as intersex, female, or male.  

Gender: Refers to how a person’s identity relates to society’s ideas about what it means to be a woman, man, neither, or a combination of different genders.  

Gender Identity: A person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender—their internal sense of being a man, woman, or another gender entirely. A person’s gender may or may not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth. Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others. 

Gender Expression: Refers to the many ways people choose to express their identity, such as their clothes, voice, hair, etc. It is important to note that a person’s gender expression may not always align with societal expectations of gender (gender expression is not a reliable indicator of a person’s gender identity).  

Transgender (also ‘trans’): A person who does not identify either fully or in part with the gender associated with their birth-assigned sex—often used as an umbrella term to represent a wide range of gender identities and expressions. Transgender people (just like cisgender people) may identify as straight, gay, etc. 

Cisgender: Refers to a person whose biological sex assigned at birth matches their gender identity. (May identify as straight, gay, etc.). 

Sexual Orientation: A person’s capacity for profound emotional and sexual attraction to another person based on their sex and/or gender. 

Lesbian: A person who identifies as a woman and is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women (people of the same gender). 

Gay: A person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to someone of the same sex and/or gender. It can include individuals who identify as men or women, or it can specifically refer to individuals who identify as men. 

Bisexual: A person who is attracted emotionally and sexually to both men-identified and women-identified people. 

Intersex: An individual having reproductive organs or external sexual characteristics of both male and female. 

Two-Spirit (or 2-spirit): Some Indigenous Peoples choose to identify as Two-Spirit rather than, or in addition to, identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Prior to European colonization, Two-Spirit people were respected members of their communities and were often accorded special status based on their unique abilities to understand both male and female perspectives. Two-Spirit persons were often the visionaries, healers, and medicine people in their communities. The term Two-Spirit affirms the interrelatedness of all aspects of identity—including gender, sexuality, community, culture, and spirituality. It is an English term used to stand in for the many Indigenous language words for Two-Spirit. 

Queer: Historically, a derogatory term for homosexuality used to insult 2SLGBTQI+ people. Although still used as a slur by some, the term has been reclaimed by some members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities, particularly youth. In its reclaimed form, it can be used as a symbol of pride and affirmation of difference and diversity or as a means of challenging rigid identity categories. 

Questioning: A person who is unsure of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sources: Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, Government of Canada

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