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August 6, 2020
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Santa Rosa Jr. College offers online courses for LGBT seniors

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
June 12, 2020

During the pandemic and resulting Shelter-in-Place Health Orders, Santa Rosa Junior College shifted their course offerings online. It looks like they’ll be doing that for a while yet. The impact has been especially challenging for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) seniors. Within that community, many have experienced a lifetime of discrimination. They tend to be reluctant to reach out for support. Many lack supportive connections with their family or children. The COVID-19 virus makes supportive outreach to this at-risk community even more challenging.

As part of SRJC’s Older Adults Program, two free upcoming offerings are focusing on the unique needs and interests of these LGBT seniors. They are “Aging Gayfully!” and “LGBTQI History: A Sonoma County Timeline.”  These classes are offered in a discussion group format online via Zoom and are in session during the 8-week summer session for the SRJC. According to the press release, the discussion group format allows participants to “connect with each other and share their common history in a safe supportive atmosphere.”

The “LGBTQI History: A Sonoma County Timeline” course will meet on Wednesdays from 1:30 p.m. until 3 p.m. It will run from June 17 to August 5. The focus will be the 1990s and allows “students to share their own memories and experiences.” Instructor Tina Dungan MA has taught in the Older Adults Program for over 20 years. Dungan is a founding member of Lesbian Archives of Sonoma County and co-creator of the Sonoma County LGBTQI Timeline. For additional information you can email Dungan at cdungan@santarosa.edu.

The “Aging Gayfully!” course will meet on Thursdays from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. It will run from June 18 to August 6. The focus will be on the opportunities and challenges of LGBT aging. It will also provide “a safe place for students to share their unique life stories and common concerns.” Instructor Gary “Buz” Hermes MA, an LGBT Aging Consultant, brings to the class over 30 years of experience serving the LGBT community based on both his LGBT and general aging studies. For more information you can email Hermes at ghermes@santarosa.edu.

In addition to these two courses, Santa Rosa Junior College’s Older Adults Program offers other free online discussion groups. These courses are on a variety of topics such as “creative arts, autobiographical writing, health and fitness, and musical experiences.” For a complete schedule go to https://older-adults.santarosa.edu/.