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LBTQQ Latina Data Unveiled
by Amy Wooten

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Raw data from a groundbreaking study on LBTQQ Latinas was presented for the first time, and the implications have left many in the community eager to learn more.

The study, Proyecto Latina, was discussed at the first Latino/a LLBTQQA conference Fuertes Palabras on Oct. 11 at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted. Many of the raw numbers ( not yet analyzed or studied ) presented by Proyecto Latina principal investigator Nicole Perez and project coordinator Alicia Vega left the audience surprised and eager to get involved.

When Amigas Latinas hit its 10-year anniversary, the organization got an idea. 'We realized there was a lot we didn't know about our community,' Vega said. That is because LBTQQ Latinas had never been studied before.

Based heavily on the 'Take Charge' survey done by Affinity, as well as other surveys previously done in the larger LGBT community, Amigas Latinas began the daunting task of surveying over 300 women in the community between January and July 2007.

Perez and Vega said they specifically targeted populations they felt weren't being reached, although they were disappointed in the small numbers of trans women in the survey. 'It doesn't represent the entire community—only those willing to step up,' Vega said, suggesting that the small number of volunteers made it difficult to reach more people.

However, both women were pleased with the wide range of ages, locations and incomes. Vega said the survey gathered 'rich' data yet to be studied in depth.

Even though there is much to learn until the survey is analyzed, even the very raw data points to areas of interest.

Numbers that came as a surprise, for example, included the 47 women who have become pregnant at some point as a result of artificial insemination. Also of interest was the fact that when it comes to identification, although 154 women identified as lesbian, gay or homosexual, 30 women ( the second largest group ) , prefer no label at all.

Some audience members were shocked that 80 women recorded that they describe themselves as 'mostly fem.'

In terms of 'outness,' a large portion of the women were out in all aspects of their lives. However, 58 stated they haven't told their mother; 81 haven't told their father; and 60 said they aren't out to their health care providers.

Vega and Perez agreed that the many layers of discrimination Latinas deal with ( sexual orientation, gender, race and gender identity ) make up an area that will be interesting to study.

'We are dealing with not just issues of sexual identity and orientation,' Vega said. 'There are lots of other things going on.'

During a Q&A session following the presentation, Perez revealed that discrimination within the LBTQQ Latina community, such as implications of transphobia, also needs to be studied, the data suggests.

Many present were shocked, and even disturbed, by the data received on topics related to violence, such as female-to-female violence. Vega and Perez suggested that until the data is analyzed and given some context, they are fearful of putting the raw data out in the open. However, they and others agreed the Latina community needs to start addressing issues of general and domestic violence.

'We know people don't talk about it,' Vega said, noting a lot of participants skipped questions in this area.

'It's really compelling,' she continued. 'It was really disturbing to see [ the numbers ] .'

Other areas discussed included the practice of safe sex; smoking, drinking and drug use; sexual activity; anxiety and depression; and suicide.

The next step, Vega said, is to conduct data analysis and mobilize the community.

'It brought out a lot of info—some good, some alarming and disturbing,' Perez said. There is a need to create awareness of the data, make sure the process is inclusive, to create necessary resources and services as a result of the data and to get more input from the community in order to create a plan, she said.

'I think the possibilities are endless with what we can really do with this.'

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