A new majority: How do Latino youth succeed in the context of low educational expectations and assumptions of sexual irresponsibility?
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Background. Latina/o youth are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States and are disproportionately impacted by unplanned pregnancies, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections as compared to their White counterparts. Prior research has attributed these disparities to factors such as earlier onset of sexual activity, lack of family communication around sexuality, inconsistent use of condoms/contraception, gender inequality, and cultural/religious beliefs. Less attention has been paid to how Latina/o youth reconcile sexuality, pregnancy, family expectations, stigmatized portrayals, and desire for higher educational attainment. Methods. A mixed-methods approach (90 interviews, 16 focus groups and 250 surveys) was used across diverse urban and agricultural geographic locations to understand how Latino youth's perception of society's prejudice towards Latino youth, low expectations for educational success, and structural inequalities impact sexual decision-making and pregnancy planning. A Youth Advisory Group contributed to all aspects of the research content and implementation protocols. Results. Youth access to positive role models and adults who empower them play a significant role in promoting positive self-image. Internalized racism was evident among many youth, and lack of perceived opportunities beyond stereotyped work, i.e., working in the fields, house-cleaning, gardening was common. Many youth want to defy the negative stereotypes and are working hard to become successful in their lives despite the many structural challenges they face. Conclusion. There is an urgent need to reframe the current discourse about Latino youth and address the underlying systemic factors in order to develop proactive policy recommendations to promote positive sexual health and educational outcomes.
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health
Describe Latino youth's perpectives on how they succeed in the face of structural, cultural and individual-level challenges.
Keyword(s): Hispanic Youth, Social Justice
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a behavioral scientist focused on the sexual health of Latinos for over 20 years. I have had multiple federally and privately funded grants and currently direct a health equity institute for research, practice and policy.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.