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A Caregiver’s Guide to Supporting Latino LGBTQ+ Youth

Despite the many valuable caregiver resources that exist for LGBTQ+ youth, few focus specifically on Latino LGBTQ+ youth and families. That’s the gap NC State University extension specialists and collaborators want to address in creating this publication.

The bilingual booklet, “Se hacen puentes al andar”: A Resource for Parents, Caregivers, and Loved Ones of Latino LGBTQ+ Youth is now available in print and online. Se hacen puentes is a culturally responsive resource informed by research on Latina/x/o youth’s experiences of belonging within a familial context. Its aim is to create what lesbian poet Gloria Anzaldúa referred to as puentes (Spanish for bridges) of solidarity, connection, and understanding between Latina/x/o LGBTQ+ youth and their families. 

The NC State Extension publication’s authors — Maru Gonzalez, EdD, an assistant professor with the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences; Bianka M. Reese, PhD, MSPH, with SHIFT NC; and Tania Connaughton-Espino, MPH — state that the publication was primarily written for parents, caregivers, and loved ones of Latina/x/o youth but can assist anyone working with this population.

Gonzalez states “This booklet fills a glaring need for LGBTQ+ resources that are both bilingual and culturally responsive. We created this booklet specifically for Latino parents, caregivers, and loved ones of LGBTQ+ youth, with the knowledge that family is at the core of Latino culture.

This resource was created with the recognition that the path toward affirmation and understanding looks different for everyone. The authors also state that “Some parents may experience grief or denial, while others question whether they are in some way at fault. These sentiments take time to process. What’s important is to respond with love and empathy and to continue to move toward greater understanding and acceptance. Our hope is that this booklet will help you along the way.”

At its core, the publication is about highlighting the power of family belonging and the risks associated with family rejection; lack of positive LGBTQ+ representation; and rigid adherence to traditional gender roles. Gonzalez adds “We hope that the stories, foundational research, and key strategies included in the booklet will serve as a puente (Spanish for bridge) toward greater understanding, support, and connection.”

North Carolina Cooperative Extension is a statewide educational outreach program of NC State University and NC A&T State University. Its mission is to deliver education and technology that enrich the lives, land and economy of North Carolinians.