New report breaks Latina stereotype opinions about sexual health issues

LatinaLista — There’s probably no group more stereotyped than Latinas. The funny thing is that not all the stereotypes are the same.

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There’s the image of the submissive Latina who divides her time between jumping to (literally) serve any man who comes into her home and the church.

Then there’s the image of the seductive Latina who dresses provocatively and lives a risque lifestyle.

And finally, there’s the image of the “gangsta” Latina with pencil-thin eyebrows, over abundance of attitude and would rather be part of a street fight than wear a dress.

Each of these stereotype descriptions, though they may have some truth in each, are not representative of the vast majority of Latinas. Assumptions and public policies regarding Latinas based on any or a combination of these stereotypes does a grave injustice to who Latinas really are.

A new report by California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) detailing what Latinas really think about pregnancies, family and reproductive issues goes further in debunking the stereotypical expectations made of Latinas regarding these issues.

Unearthing Latina/o Voices” reveals that contrary to popular perception, today’s average Latinas are far from being submissive — to either church or partner.

80% (of Latina/os interviewed) believe family communication about sexuality is “extremely important.”

Eight (8) in 10 strongly agreed that every woman has the right to decide for herself the number and spacing of her children.

85% believe that pregnant and parenting youth deserve and need family support and educational opportunities, even though only 40% said that this support is actually given.

While the report focused on the responses of about 900 English and Spanish-speaking adult Latinas/os across the state of California, their attitudes and opinions reflect that of most Latinas/os across the country.

The report underscores the fact that most Latinas are not “outsiders” to American culture. Most of the immigrants, who participated in the report, had lived in the United States for at least 20 years. They, along with native born Latinas know what the problems are that exist in their communities and have definite ideas on how to help.

The report made several policy recommendations that included:

Advance health care proposals for affordable coverage of and access to comprehensive health care for all Californians, regardless of immigration status.

Support policies that ensure young and adult Latinas have access to all contraceptive methods, medical services, devices and testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections as part of basic preventive care.

Include community participation in efforts that address cultural and linguistic competency in the delivery of health care information and services.

Unfortunately, these highlighted ideas (there are more in the report) will take money to accomplish unless communities voluntarily work together to solve these issues.

And that’s what it might have to take if state governments have no money to aid these communities or are reluctant to help because they can’t separate the stereotype images of what Latinas really want versus what media portrays them as wanting.

CLRJ’s survey findings challenge the myth that Latinas/os are either not concerned with or are unwilling to discuss issues related to reproductive health and sexuality. On the contrary, the poll findings show that health, including reproductive and sexual health, is important among the Latina/o community. It is therefore imperative that reproductive and sexual health issues and needs no longer be neglected, misconstrued and/or relegated as ancillary to Latinas’/os’ overall health.

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