Research finds discrimination, resilience among older lesbians

More than half of lesbians aged 55 and older have been married to a man at some point in their lives. More than 90% said their families knew about their lesbian relationships.

East Carolina University researchers reported these findings in their article, “Older Lesbians: Experiences of Aging, Discrimination and Resilience,” published in the Journal of Women and Aging. The work was the largest and most comprehensive research done on this demographic since 1984.

Averett

Social work professors Paige Averette, Intae Yoon and Carol L. Jenkins surveyed 456 lesbians 55 years of age or older regarding socio-demographics, social activity, health, sexual identity, family relations, romantic relationships, use of service/help programs, mental health, end of life care, and experience with discrimination.

The research uncovered persistent discrimination and hostility toward lesbians despite improvements in public attitudes since the last national study. Compared to the earlier study, the group reported slightly higher levels of perceived discrimination in their employment settings due to their sexual orientation.

The researchers said that older lesbians contend with ageism in their work and social settings, just as many older individuals do. However, members of the study group face additional intolerance and discrimination from family and from the public, while walking down the street and going about their daily lives.

“More older lesbians have reported being married to men than twenty-five years ago,” said Averett, “which points to the continued pressure that lesbians feel to hide and to the power of heterosexism that continues within our culture.”

Averett said, “Older lesbians struggle with federal and state policies that disregard their lifetime romantic partnerships, denying them end-of-life decision making as well as access to partners’ Social Security and retirement benefits.” This forces them into legal battles with partners’ families, hospitals and employers, she said.

Despite the ongoing challenges, study participants showed an increase in positive thinking about their sexual orientation and about aging. While more than 80% reported participation in therapy at some point, the researchers said, they consider themselves overall to be in good mental health. More than 90% said they were “out” to their family members, and a majority reported having positive relationships with family members who know about their sexual orientation.

The study also showed an increase from the prior study in the duration of lesbian relationships. That number is now similar to the duration of heterosexual marriages.

For additional information about the study, contact Paige Averett, assistant professor in the ECU School of Social Work, at 252-328-4193 or averettp@ecu.edu.

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Full text of the article is available at: http://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/ebm/record/21767086/abstract/Older_lesbians:_experiences_of_aging_discrimination_and_resilience_

 

Memorial service to honor Kingsland

Del Kingsland

A memorial service next week will honor longtime ECU steam plant supervisor Del Kingsland, who died July 13. The service will be held at 3 p.m. July 27 in the Willis Building.

Kingsland was an award-winning employee with nearly 20 years of service, a member of the ECU Staff Senate and an active member of ECU’s District 65 of the State Employees Association of North Carolina. He was responsible for the supervision and oversight of the main campus steam plant, an 8,000-square-foot facility that feeds steam to nearly every building on campus for heating, cooking, hot water and humidity requirements.

He was among the recipients of the Chancellor’s Synergy Award for excellence in team efforts in 2006, 2001 and 1999. In 2004, he was awarded the Facilities Services Supervisors Award.

Kingsland joined SEANC in 1992, serving in a number of leadership roles including vice chair, EMPAC chair and finally, chair of the organization. Under his leadership, the district twice won District of the Year awards.

For additional information about the employees who work together to keep the steam plant running –Kingsland’s “Steam Team” — visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/mktg/steam_team.cfm.

Students, faculty learn to deal with conflict

Students listen as Ira Lawson, Grad Asst. in the ECU Center for Student Leadership & Civic Engagement explains the purpose of discussion in the small group.

The College of Allied Health Sciences Student Leaders Council recently hosted a Lunch and Learn on July 18.  The focus of the event was “Dealing with Conflict”.

Dr. Stephen Thomas, dean, welcomed approximately 35 students and faculty from the College of Allied Health Sciences and the College of Nursing.  During the session, the attendees discovered ways to reach their maximum potential by learning how to effectively identify and handle conflict.  The event was highlighted by small group activities that encouraged collaboration between the various attendees.

Krista Wilhelm, assistant director of the Center for Student Leadership & Civic Engagement, and Ira Lawson, graduate assistant at the center, facilitated the event.

The Lunch and Learn was supported by the 2011 BB&T Leadership Enhancement Grant awarded to the College.  The BB&T grant committee for the college is led by Dr. Beth Velde, professor. Serving on the coordinating committee are Thomas; Dr. Kathy Cox, associate professor;  Dr. Kevin O’Brien, associate dean; and Dr. Leigh Cellucci, associate professor.

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ECU alumnus Ron Clark to speak in Greenville

East Carolina University alumnus and Disney Teacher of the Year Award Winner Ron Clark will speak at 7 p.m. July 26 at the Greenville Barnes & Noble.

Clark will speak about his teaching experiences and present details on his new book, “The End of Molasses Classes.” A question and answer session will follow.

Clark is creator of the Ron Clark Academy that was nationally highlighted during the 2008 presidential election. He was featured on the Oprah Winfrey television show and his life story was made into a television movie, “The Ron Clark Story,” starring Matthew Perry.

Clark has authored two additional books, “The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child,” and “The Excellent 11: Qualities Teachers and Parents Use to Motivate, Inspire and Educate Children.”

He is a 1994 graduate of the ECU College of Education and a North Carolina Teaching Fellow. His work with disadvantaged students in both rural and urban areas and his methods for engaging children in the educational process have gained international attention.

For additional information, contact Barnes & Noble at (252) 321-8119 or e-mail crm2775@bn.com.

 

ECU professor emeritus died Saturday

East Carolina University professor emeritus Robert D. Myers died July 16 in Lehigh, Fla.

He was professor of pharmacoogy and psychiatric medicine at the Brody School of Medicine and director of the research division at ECU’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Studies. He was named Distinguished Research Professor of Pharmacology in 1996.

Myers retired in January 2011.

Read the entire obituary in The Daily Reflector.

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