Sher founder says more needs to be done

Alex Sangha would like to see governments have clear plans to support LGBTQ community

There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done.

That’s what Sher Vancouver founder Alex Sangha says when it comes to the much talked about topic of inclusion and how Delta and its institutions can be doing more.

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Sher Vancouver is a non-profit group founded in North Delta to support LGBTQ South Asians and their friends and families, one of the first and, still, few of its kind in the country.

The City of Delta has begun flying the Pride flag and installed rainbow benches, while other ideas are also being explored. Sangha, however, said a clear strategic plan to support LGBTQ people needs to be the next step when it comes to city hall, police and the school district.

“I think there’s a lot of work that could be done at the school district, Delta police and the City of Delta,” said the long-time social worker. “For example, it would be wonderful if the school district hired an LGBTQ liaison or consultant, someone in a district-wide position where any queer kid can turn for help. This person can go to the schools to talk about racism or bullying, homophobia and transphobia. This person could also be a resource for teachers about films or movies that are age-appropriate that teachers could get into the curriculum and specialist advice to bring these types of issues to the classroom. Kids in the school system don’t have to feel they’re alone,” he explained.

“I also really feel that governments have committees that meet every month or every few months but a lot of these people are not the experts of the situation that they’re dealing with. I find it a bit of a cop out and it can be very ineffective and very bureaucratic. It would be better to hire specialized staff who are trained and are experts in the area, to have a budget and program. Also, the leadership at city hall and the school district and Delta police needs to change to have more visible minorities, people of colour… I really think there’s no excuse for a government which gets taxpayers’ dollars to be under representative of the people they serve.

Sangha said his group has volunteers providing peer support and operates on a relatively small budget compared to the growing demand.

Offering programs that are fully funded would go a long way to helping those in crisis, he said, and they’ve reached out to the community for ongoing support.

“Really, the levels of government need to come to the table and provide some funding. We’ve made so many grant applications but it’s been difficult. Once we get our charitable status, I’m hoping that will make it easier,” he said.

Sher Vancouver recently announced its release of Queersome Desi Resources, a specially curated list of queer South Asian resources from around the world, a list that includes reading materials, podcasts, movies and creative projects.

For more information about Sher Vancouver, visit: www.shervancouver.com.

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