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LGBT Latino youth continue to have fear of acceptance issues

Reported by: Sergio Avila
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Updated: 6/17/2013 10:37 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- The largest and oldest civil rights organization for the Latino community is hosting its annual convention in Las Vegas. and bringing in some political heavy hitters.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, is a democratic organization that spans across the country. The group has more than 132,000 members nationwide with about 300 here in the valley.

Its focus is on bringing issues important to the Latino community to the forefront. 

This is just one of several conferences going on during the weeklong convention. There are also some key speakers including Gov. Brian Sandoval and Vice President Joe Biden.

LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilks says their programs do a lot for the community.

“We do leadership development; we do a lot of work on housing, building housing projects to let people get in their own homes. We do health, fitness and trying to improve health outcomes for Latino communities but the overall goal is trying to improve the quality of life for Latino families across the country,” Wilks said.

They say they feel accepted at school, but not at home. Today LULAC and the human rights campaign released a study providing insight into the attitudes of gay and lesbian Latino youth. News 3's Sergio Avila spoke with some of the people behind the study. As he explains, the results are promising but there's still a lot of work to do.

The study focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Latino youth in the high school age range and found that one in four feel they have no one to talk to and fear their families will not accept them.

Daniel Hernandez, 23, was thrust in to the spotlight January 8, 2011. He was the intern that was by representative Gabrielle Giffords' side when she was shot in Tucson, Ariz.

“I went from being someone who was on the city of Tucson’s LGBT committee when I was 19 and 20. To now becoming someone who is nationally recognized for being a part of these communities,” Hernandez said.

Since the tragedy, Hernandez now speaks against gun violence and continues to pour his heart in to equal rights for the LGBT community.

A study just completed by the human rights campaign and the league of united Latin American citizens found that three quarters of gay Latino youth feel school is a safe place for them to be themselves.

So while we're making great strides, 75 percent is not enough.

Lisbeth Rivera helped put the survey together and says this study shows the Latino community is making strides when it comes to acceptance.

“It's incredible the stories of acceptance and of joy that many of these people have in saying I'm glad my child trusted me enough to give me his or her truth completely,” Hernandez said.

What's concerning is many of those interviewed say they don't feel accepted where it may be most important, at home.

Hernandez says the key is to educate not only the youth but also their parents.
For Hernandez it's all about focusing on your own growth.

“There is no perfect way to be Latino, there is no perfect way to be LGBT,” Hernandez said. “What we can do and what we must do an what is our charge is to make sure we're providing the space and opportunities for people to feel they're accepted and even though we don't understand that we're listening figure out who they are.”

Support for teens who Hernandez says are coming out at a younger age but who need the help to make it through some tough challenges.

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