Post submitted by Sharon Groves, HRC Director, Religion and Faith Program

It has been a great personal joy to be able to see our work with the Latino community expand and develop. On June 17, I had the honor of representing HRC, alongside A La Familia national coordinator Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, at the launch of our Latino youth survey at the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) conference.

The Latino LGBT Youth report, jointly sponsored by HRC and LULAC, dives into the 2012 LGBT youth survey research conducted by the HRC Family Project.

At the LULAC conference, Daniel Hernandez, the former intern who came to the aid of Rep. Gabby Gifford following the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., spoke of the value of the report and its enormous potential for change.

Like many, Hernandez saw the transformative potential of HRC and LULAC joining forces to address the lives and circumstances of LGBT Latino youth.

The struggles of Latino youth are certainly not isolated within the LGBT community.

Just a few days ago an 11-year-old Mexican American boy, Sebastien de la Cruz, faced an onslaught of anti-LGBT rhetoric on Twitter after singing before the third game of the NBA finals in San Antonio, Texas.

Such discrimination is difficult enough, but for Latino youth it’s often compounded by a lack of acceptance of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

Lisbeth Melendez Rivera spoke at the conference of one young Latino man featured in our A La Familia guide who came out to his Pentecostal parents, only to be kicked out of the house. Sadly, stories like these are far too common.

Even when the result is not as draconian as excommunication, the effects of rejection can be psychologically, spiritually and even physically damaging for young people. As the report makes clear, twice as many LGBT Latino youth hear negative messages about being LGBT from their family.

Yet, as difficult as the coming out process can be, we know many families are becoming more accepting and can offer us a model that stresses tolerance and generosity. 

Our hope is that this report, paired with our programmatic work, will provide culturally competent ways to support Latino families. We also hope it will provide the larger community of educators, religious leaders, family members, counselors, and other allies not only a window into the struggles of LGBT Latino youth, but also some proven techniques to support them.

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