LULAC on Forbes: The Organizations Behind the Great Latino Vote
Posted on 11/02/2012 @ 11:08 AM
As we move closer and closer to Election Day, LULAC members on the ground are working harder to make sure that Latinos hit the early voting stations or the poll booths this Tuesday. Forbes contributor Giovanni Rodriguez recognized the efforts of the LULAC membership and staff! Read more below.
THE ORGANIZATIONS BEHIND THE GREAT LATINO VOTEBy: Giovanni Rodriguez, Contributor
11/01/2012 @ 1:39 PM
They’re using social, mobile, and on-the-ground organizing. And they’re getting the job done.Earlier today, The Wall Street Journal posted the latest in a series of headlines this week provoking conversation about Latino voters: “Election May Hinge On Latino Turnout.” But while people debate whether Latinos in fact will show up this election, there are many people with phones in hand, fingers on the keyboard, and boots on the ground making sure that 2012 will be an election to remember. There are too many people in these roles to list them all here. But with the help of a few friends, I’ve selected a few for special attention. If you would like to add an organization to this list, let me know in the comments. There’s still a lot of work to be done, and all these organizations can use your help.
NCLR — the mother of many Latino causes, The National Council for La Raza has been involved on a number of fronts, including a recently announced sweepstakes with The X Factor designed to get younger Latinos to vote. (NCLR on Twitter.)
LULAC – founded in 1929, The League of United Latin American Citizens is the oldest and one of the most venerable Latino civil rights organizations in the US. A partner to several organizations in voter registration programs, LULAC has an ambitious volunteer program where you can “organize your community and host voter registration drives in your neighborhood.” (LULAC on Twitter.)
NALEO Educational Fund — “the nation’s leading nonprofit organization that facilitates the full participation of Latinos in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.” Like NCLR, NALEO has been active in a variety of arenas including research and education on the importance of the Latino vote. Check out the “2012 Latino Election Guide,” linking from their home page. (NALEO on Twitter.)
Mi Familia Vota — “a national non-profit organization working to unite the Latino community and its allies to promote social and economic justice through increased civic participation.” Mi Familia Vota seeks to expand the Latino vote with highly focused voter registration and mobilization in key states. (Mi Familia Vota on Twitter).
Center for Community Change — “one of the larger community building organizations in the US,” according to Wikipedia. With a focus on building “the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color,” the Center has teamed with a number of Latino organizations to mobilize the vote. (The Center on Twitter).
Voto Latino — high profile organization dedicated to Latino voter registration and mobilization. Chairwoman Rosario Dawson and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar have been very effective in attracting publicity to the cause and partnering with other organizations. (Voto Latino on Twitter).
America’s Voice: “The mission of America’s Voice and America’s Voice Education Fund (AVEF) is to harness the power of American voices and American values to promote fair and just immigration reform.” The organization has published a number of informative analyses on the scope and impact of ethnic voters. (America’s Voice on Twitter).
Cuentame – “through short video, docu-series, interviews from our studio, the streets, or sent to us by you,” Cuentame has built a solid online community. Check out the video collection on the Cuentame Vote page. One thing I really like about Cuentame: they have been particularly vocal about the risks of Latinos not voting in this election. It’s a subject that’s close to my heart. (Cuentame on Twitter).
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Read the article on Forbes here.
LULAC Councils can be first line of defense against school bullying
Posted on 10/19/2012 @ 04:21 PM
By Jesse Garcia
Brandon Elizares, Rafael Morelos and Austin Rodriguez bravely came out of the closet early in life. They wanted to live honest and open lives. But sadly, their communities weren’t prepared to protect them from the daily abuse, taunts and threats at school.
Brandon, 16, of El Paso, Texas, was found in his room after ingesting an unknown amount of pills. Rafael, 14, of Cashmere, Washington, left his home and hung himself on a nearby bridge. Austin, 15, of Wellsville, Ohio, put himself in a coma after overdosing on his medication.
Austin survived. Brandon and Rafael did not.
Two years ago, America experienced a string of gay teen suicides that received media attention. Nine gay youth ended their lives in September 2010 as a result of anti-gay bullying. Their deaths sparked an “It Gets Better” campaign, which included video messages of support from members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, Hollywood celebrities and even the President of the United States.
Somehow these messages of support did not reach Brandon, Rafael and Austin, whose tragedies took place in 2012. The Latino community needs to step up and address school bullying at home, and LULAC councils are the perfect vehicle to take on this problem locally with school boards.
Education is a civil right. No one should be denied a safe place where he or she can achieve his or her fullest potential.
Following the string of suicides in the fall of 2010, LULAC Council 4871 of Dallas, Texas, formed a coalition with other civil rights groups in the city to address bullying on the campuses of Dallas Independent School District, the 12th largest school district in the United States with nearly 160,000 students. Two-thirds of the student body is Latino.
Instances of anti-gay bullying in Dallas schools were all too familiar to LULAC council leaders. The council’s first-ever scholarship recipient, a 17-year-old senior named Jesus Montelongo, provided an essay that moved many in the community. The young scholar’s academic achievement was the only positive thing he took away from 12 years of public school. In elementary, Montelongo was singled out by a teacher who told him there was no room for gays on the bus for a school trip, and consequently, he was left behind. By the time the young boy was in middle school, thoughts of suicide were already forming in his head. In high school, Montelongo was threatened so much that he sat alone in the cafeteria to avoid contact with others.
Council leaders shared Montelongo’s story at rallies that LULAC 4871 and its coalition partners coordinated to get DISD school board members to take up the matter. At an Oct. 15, 2010, anti-bullying rally, a press conference with LULAC members and Latino elected officials called for an end to violence on campuses and for acceptance of LGBT students. That evening school board members agreed to meet with LULAC and its partners to discuss a blue print on a safe schools policy.
LULAC 4871 and its coalition partners researched and crafted a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that included the best school codes of conduct from across the nation. The result was a policy that not only protected LGBT youth, but also covered youth of different faiths, races, weight, language and more categories. The policy also clearly defined what constituted bullying. LULAC was also happy that the policy would protect youth who are immigrants and youth who primarily speak a foreign language.
On Nov. 18, 2010, LULAC members attended the DISD school board meeting where officials not only voted for unanimously for the anti-bullying policy but even shared their own stories of being bullied. That signature policy can be found on this link: http://pol.tasb.org/Policy/Code/361?filter=FFI
Policies like Dallas’ help curb incidents that lead to bullying and suicide by making educators and administration more accountable. Bullied children are often either too scared or ashamed to report instances so it is up to adults to take action.
In a 2011 study commissioned by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (a national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students), researchers surveyed 8,584 students between the ages of 13 and 20 from every state and the District of Columbia and found that:
- 8 out of 10 LGBT students faced harassment in school (81 percent)
- Three-fifths of respondents felt unsafe at school (63.5 percent)
- And nearly a third skipped a day of school due to safety concerns (29.8 percent)
Jesse Garcia is a LULAC member and former president of LULAC Council 4871.
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