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Does Montgomery County Need An LGBT Liaison?

The county has part-time liaisons for the African American, Latino, Asian and interfaith communities.

Montgomery County has formal liaisons to the African American, Latino, Asian American, and interfaith communities. Should the county also establish a liaison to the LGBT community?

Wheaton residents Peyton Myers and Linda Amendt believe that the LGBT population needs a dedicated champion in county government, someone who will funnel information to the community and be a point of contact.

They hope to make their case in a meeting on Monday with Bruce Adams, director of the county's Office of Community Partnerships.

Myers and Amendt say they also want more recognition and support from the county for PRIDE activities during June, Coming Out Day in October and Transgender Remembrance Day in November, among other things. 

Liaison positions in the county government have evolved over time, Adams said. Former county executive Charlie Gilchrist appointed liaisons to the African American and Latino communities during his time in office. Another county executive, Sidney Kramer, appointed a liaison to the Asian community. 

In 2006, a group of non-profit organizations asked for a liaison, and Councilmember George Leventhal proposed a liaison for the interfaith community. A joint liaison position emerged.

But when the economy fell apart, the liaison functions were divided and added to existing staff positions, Adams said.

Karla Silvestre serves as the Latino liaison and the director of the Charles Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity in Wheaton. Diane Vy Nguyen-Vu is the Asian and Middle Eastern liaison and the county's language access coordinator. Daniel Koroma works with the African American and faith communities.

"It would be great to have full-time liaisons," Adams said. "We just don't have the money and resources to expand the staff."

He said that a possible first step for the LGBT community might be an advisory committee to the county executive.

jnrentz1 January 12, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Should there be a liaison for the White community?
Kim Cooke January 13, 2013 at 04:36 PM
Does the white community, or any other majorty, ever need an advocate?
Linda Amendt January 14, 2013 at 07:25 PM
Good questions! Thankfully, many of them already have one. Hispanic's are Caucasian and have advocates; and differently-abled people of all backgropunds, including white, have advocates. LGBT folks are of every nationality. We need an advocates in the face of ill-informed other people.

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