Nationwide campaign aims to build LGBT awareness in Latino community

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A public education campaign “Familia es Familia” aimed at building LGBT awareness in the Latino community was presented last weekend at the The National Council of La Raza Conference in Las Vegas.

The campaign, created in a joint effort by D&P Creative Strategies and gay rights organization Freedom to Marry, will provide 21 of the nation’s leading Latino organizations with public education and resources to strengthen Latino voices for LGBT acceptance. It will also launch a website with access to content that encourage acceptance and empowerment of gay family members, according to the director of public engagement for Freedom to Marry, Thalia Zepeda.

“This campaign is the first of it’s kind in the sense that it’s a comprehensive public education campaign aimed at strengthening the discussion in the Latino community nationwide,” says Zepeda.

Catherine Pino and Ingrid Duran, cofounders of D& P Creative Strategies, agree there is a need for dialogue about LGBT rights in the Latino community on a nationwide level. They believe LGBT rights groups that advocate on behalf of Latino communities have not had a strong enough presence in places like the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda since 2004.

Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda an Illinois LGBTQ advocacy organization based in Chicago, thinks its important and exciting to see so many national Latino organizations come together for LGBT rights.

Martinez believes that a national effort involving more than one group would be effective in helping to change public perspective. But he also understands the importance of a culturally driven campaign like “Familia es Familia”.

“When you drill down to cultural realities based in America, it’s important to engage groups in a way that is culturally relative to them,”  Martinez said.

It’s a combination of new studies on Latino communities and the statement made by President Obama in support of gay marriage that has motivated national Latino organizations to sign on to the campaign as partners, according to Pino.

A recent poll by Bendixen & Amandi shows Latino communities are — for the most part — accepting of LGBT rights. Of the Latino population surveyed, 68 percent believe being gay is morally acceptable, 75 percent support anti-bullying policies for LGBT youth in schools and 62 percent support allowing same sex marriage, according to the results.

The polls were important in the creation of the campaign, Zepeda said. They counter the popular assumption that Latinos aren’t supportive of LGBT family members and gay rights. They also show that the majority of Latinos are aware of and support measures to prevent bullying and discrimination in places like work and school.

More than that, the survey results let families with LGBT members know that they are not alone.

“They let families know that it’s not just us, that there is support in the community,” Zepeda said. “Being able to get conversation out there in the open is a source of healing for many families and their LGBT members.”

One of the problems that Latino families may face when someone in the family comes out is that they just don’t know where to go for answers because there is a lack of resources for the positive affirmation that their family members need.

This campaign seeks to help keep families together by providing some of the much needed resources.

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