LGBTQ Latinx Students: Make an Informed Decision about Higher Education

Posted on 09/17/2019 @ 11:57 AM

By Jesse Garcia, President of LULAC Lambda Council 11125, Washington, DC

Nearly 30 years ago, I left my border town of Brownsville, Texas, to attend a private university in San Antonio. I was a young kid with big dreams—the first in his family to attend college. Luckily for me, I chose Our Lady of the Lake University, whose student body was mainly Latinx and African American. The small school felt like home, and my mom felt reassured she was leaving me in a safe place where my dormitory, classrooms and administration buildings were all next to each other on a picturesque campus with manicured lawns.

Unfortunately, not even a private Catholic University could prevent the bigotry and homophobia that every queer youth in America has to endure in a school setting. It only took a couple weeks before the taunting and threats began. But it was too late. My tuition check had been cashed. My student loan had been disbursed. My family had already celebrated my departure. I couldn’t quit.

I had to take on this harassment by myself. I had to create my own safe space and build a social circle to help me overcome bullying by grown men on a college campus.

Although there is more acceptance and protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students today, the bullying continues. According to a recent paper, Campus Climate, by the Rutgers Tyler Clementi Center, 32 percent of queer students polled felt discriminated; 38 percent of them felt unsafe after their first year on campus; 52 percent had difficulty getting along with their roommate; and 24 percent were verbally harassed for their sexual orientation. The percentages for all these categories were higher for transgender students.

Until colleges and universities step up and take measures to ensure the safety of each student regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, the onus is put on LGBTQ students and their parents to make careful decisions on where to apply.

Thankfully, a new online resource was created to help queer students navigate life after high school: Best Colleges for LGBT Students.

BestColleges.com recently partnered with Campus Pride to spotlight top colleges in the country for LGBTQ students. The ranking system combines academic and affordability metrics with the Campus Pride Index score, which is a comprehensive national rating system that measures LGBTQ-friendly campus life.

Along with the student experience guide mentioned above, there is also a state-by-state guide and a site for unique perspectives and resources regarding safe zones.

This fall nearly 20 million students in the United States will head off to college to start their academic journeys.

Higher education is a monumental accomplishment for students and their families. For students, the endeavor demands sacrifices in time, energy and financial resources. For parents, choosing the right school is paramount to ensure their children are provided a good education on a safe campus.

With more than 4,300 colleges and universities throughout the country competing for your tuition dollar, the choice can be overwhelming.

Luckily, BestColleges.com gives proactive LGBTQ students resources to make informed decisions about their future.

On behalf of LULAC, I would like to congratulate LGBTQ scholars on your important milestone and wish you the best of luck on your selection!

What about All of Us?

Posted on 08/23/2019 @ 02:47 PM

As part of its mission to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of the Hispanic population of the United States, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has become partners with the All of Us Research Program to promote better health conditions for the Hispanic community. LULAC realizes that our health care system is flawed and still implements a “one-size-fits-all” approach that has not worked for the Hispanic/Latinx community for decades.

The National Institutes of Health launched the All of Us Research Program in May 2018 with the goal of gathering health data from one million or more people living in the United States to accelerate research and improve health. The program takes into account everyone’s differences, such as our lifestyle and the environment we live in, to help researchers uncover ways of delivering precision medicine, or individualized prevention, treatment, and care.

While the Latinx community makes up more than 18% of the U.S. population, we only account for roughly 1% of clinical trial participants nationwide. As a result, the medical treatment our community receives is not tailored to our specific needs. One very important thing to understand about medicine is that treatments and prevention strategies are based on research. If the Latinx community isn’t adequately represented in that research, we won’t have treatments designed with our unique health needs in mind.

One of the most important features of the All of Us Research Program is its emphasis on establishing a diverse group of participants. The program’s goal is to have 75% of its participants come from communities that have been historically underrepresented in biomedical research. LULAC encourages participation in the program because it provides the opportunity to help fight disease and improve the health of future generations, tackling some of the health disparities that plague our communities.

LULAC knows that members of our community who are considering participating may also have very valid concerns about sharing their personal health data. But the program’s approach to privacy and security has been developed by experts with input from a wide range of community partners. The program understands the importance of protecting its participants’ personal information and health data and is taking great measures to do so. The data is encrypted so names and other direct identifiers are removed and replaced with a code. All of Us limits and keeps track of who sees the information and has Certificates of Confidentiality from the U.S. government to help the program fight legal demands, such as court orders, to give out information that could identify participants.

Only approved researchers will be allowed to see data from individual participants. They will be required to register and verify their identity. Each researcher’s name, affiliation, and research purpose will be listed publicly. These researchers must agree to a code of ethics before accessing the data.

To participate, you must be 18 years or older and live in the United States. The program wants people from different backgrounds, geographies, ages, and genders. Participants will not receive any type of treatment; thus, they do not need to have health insurance to participate. To be a participant you do not need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and the program will not ask you about your residency or citizenship status at any time.

From the onset of the program, participants have had full control over how much information they want to offer and can opt out of the program at any time. If you decide to participate, you may also be invited to do other activities, but they will not be required. The All of Us Research Program is available in English and Spanish.

LULAC is one of the 30 plus well-known, trusted and respected national community and provider organizations partnering with the program to raise awareness about the importance of participation from our community. It’ll take all of us to change the future of medicine and eliminate the health inequality that exists today in our country. The All of Us Research Program is an opportunity to ensure that the Hispanic community is included in research studies that can lead to new understanding and new treatments. Currently, more than 180,000 volunteers have joined as full participants, will you be next?

To learn more visit www.JoinAllofUs.org/together. Para español, viste www.JoinAllofUs.org/TodosJuntos

The New Face of Inequality - Fighting for Technology Access in a Digital Era

Posted on 03/20/2019 @ 02:30 PM

By: Jose R. Aguilar Jr., Education & Youth Programs Intern

To access the internet is to give one the tool to explore the world and open the mind to limitless information. However, this digital access is not spread equally and only favors the few who can afford a high-quality internet connection. It can be said that the ability to interconnect with our world through the use of technology and the internet has pushed us to become a globalized society. With the increasing access to digital resources, our definition of culture is being transformed not only as the sharing of ideas limited by our geographical reach, but culture is now being defined within our mediascape that lives on the internet.

One of the looming concerns about the development of the information age is the distribution of digital resources throughout all communities. The inequality of access to the internet and technology is defined by the digital divide. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the digital divide is a socioeconomic inequality in the access to, use of, or impact of information and communication technologies such as the internet. The digital divide will be the next main index of social inequality, as societies advance with better education, medicine, and sustainable environments by utilizing technology as a tool. Particularly, for the case of the Latinx divide, it exists, however not to the extent one might think.

Analyzing the specifics of the Latinx demographic, and their internet use, two subgroups stand supreme in trying to narrow the digital divide. According to a Pew Hispanic Trends research article since 2015 both Spanish-Speaking and Immigrant Latinos have to lead the change in increasing internet access, specifically “Latino adults who report using the internet increased 20 percentage points, up from 64% then to 84% in 2015”. Due to the massive push from Spanish-Speaking and Immigrant Latinos, from 2009 to 2015 the number of Immigrant Latinos who utilize the “internet grew from 51% to 78%”. However, access to the internet still holds a great disparity with both hardware and network access. Looking at the Latinx demographic only “45% [had] accessed the internet through a broadband home connection [note that number is] 46%” from 2010 to 2015. More surprising is that “80% of Latino adults [access] the internet via a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet” meaning the Latino market is more susceptible to exploitation for mobile and telecommunication carriers. Furthermore, this inner divide creates a common myth that internet access is equality within itself, but the reality is that having access to a PC and a broadband connection offers more opportunities and advantages that using cellular data. Overall the Latinx continued growth in their internet access despite the economic, language, and accessibility challenges spark the conversation on why Latinx individuals want access to the internet and what for.

Fortunately, with a strategic partnership like Charter Communications, LULAC is able to join the fight for equal internet access and provide our communities access to the internet. Charter has long been a champion for LULAC and our mission to connect our communities. With our technology centers and the help of Charter we have been able to provide free broadband access and computer-related training to students, parents, and low-income individuals around the United States and Puerto Rico. Currently, Charter Communications offers its Spectrum Internet TM Assist (SIA), a program offers High-speed Internet access at an affordable price. Spectrum believes that everyone should have access to reliable, high-speed Internet. To find out more about Spectrum SIA and review the qualification guidelines please visit www.spectrum.com/browse/content/spectrum-internet-assist.html for more information.

Sources: www.pewhispanic.org/2016/07/20/digital-divide-narrows-for-latinos-as-more-spanish-speakers-and-immigrants-go-online/ www.pewinternet.org/2015/11/19/2-job-seeking-in-the-era-of-smartphones-and-social-media

The Future is in Your Hands: Vote on November 6th

Posted on 10/25/2018 @ 01:28 PM

Dear LULAC Familia and Voters of America,

As I look across our nation, it is clear our moment is here and history is calling us.

  • In Dodge City, Kansas, a town infamous from the Wild West for its gunslingers and shootouts, there is lawlessness again. Dodge City is now 60% Latino residents so election officials moved the one and only polling place out of town and are literally telling Hispanics to get out of Dodge to vote.
  • In Texas all-time records are being set by early voters turning out in some areas 2-1 Latino Democrats but they are forced to wait in long lines under a hot sun because only a few polling sites are open while others are being closed early before Hispanic workers can leave their jobs.
  • And in Georgia, new Latino and African American voters have registered in unprecedented numbers only to see their names ripped illegally from the roles under the pretext they don’t have sufficient identification and election officers are hoping to run out the voting clock.

My friends, none of this new. These are the same dirty tactics and practices of the past again raising their ugly head to scare Latinos and tell us our vote doesn’t matter. Mentira! Never has each and every vote counted more than now. Tu cuentas, yo cuento, todos contamos!

Our fathers, brothers, sons and daughters have served, sacrificed and died in this country’s armed forces so that we can vote. Our leaders have marched, protested, sued and gone to jail for the right to vote. We are ready to stand and fight for the right to vote! It is our nation too and we will not let anyone deny us our voice at the polls. Basta!

When a nation hears code terms about Latino immigrants called rapists, criminals, drug-dealers and gang-members, all our community suffers. When Latino refugee families desperate to flee hunger, violence and certain death are torn apart and turned away at our border, it is you and me people point a finger at and call us invaders, diseased and animals.

Right-wing supremacist politicians and their followers count on fear and anger to stir up their hatred but our answer is peaceful and much more powerful. It is nuestro poder increíble, our incredible power to vote as American citizens in 2018. With resolute hearts and trust in justice for all human beings, we can and must reclaim America.

Recuerda, our beautiful Raza has overcome despite primaries with all-white males, days of poll taxes required to vote and gerrymandering of districts to dilute Latino voting power. We will fight fiercely the illegal new voter ID laws, wrongful purging of voter registration rolls and the unfounded filing of criminal charges against Latino seniors voting by mail, etc.

Let us stand up now against injustice as our grandparents and parents did. They taught us through their example con ganas fuerte de justicia para todos! We must fight back with el golpazo de votos so that all of America hears our gritos por justicia. We will never bow our heads, be neutral in the face of wrong nor keep silent in the presence of discrimination.

I urge you to make sure that every LULAC member takes 10 people to vote, and texts 10 more to go vote porque nuestra Raza nunca se raja! El respeto se gana, respect is earned. Let the crooked politicians know that no matter how much they try to cheat and rig elections, we will not be discouraged, deterred, nor turned away.

History will one day judge each of us in this time in which we are living. What do we do in the face of injustice? Did we meet the challenge or did we cower from it and denied doing anything about what we witnessed? Was our voice raised, our vote cast or did we go silent and become indifferent?

Never forget los valientes, those who fought the police brutality inflicted by the Texas Rangers, those who marched with Cesar Chavez when they knew hired goons with nightsticks were waiting, and those who were called spics, greasers, wetbacks, or told to go back to Puerto Rico or Mexico. They did not back down. Nor must we.

I urgently call upon all of today’s LULAC familia and all our Raza voters to organize and mobilize our gente to vote! The road to the State House, Congress, and the White House goes through our barrios, colonias, y nuestras casas. Nadie llega sin nuestro voto! The hands that pick our food, build our cities, clean our homes, run our trucking systems, unload the ships at our harbors and care for our children --- these same hands now hold the power in them through the vote to change America for the next generation. I pray we will do so y que Dios nos ayude y bendiga.

Hasta La Victoria!
Domingo Garcia

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