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Here Are A Handful Of Reasons Why We Need To Talk To Latinx Kids About S-E-X

For Latinx families, talking about sex with kids and young adults can be challenging. Navigating these conversations is especially difficult in low-income and immigrant households that lack access to contraception and hold more conservative views toward dating and premarital sex. But if we’re going to prioritize the sexual and reproductive health of our loved ones, engaging in these discussions is critical.

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Research suggests that when parents and family members put aside their own personal discomfort about discussing sex and talk to Latinx youth, that children and teens are more likely to have positive sexual and reproductive health outcomes. The reason for this, according to Power to Decide, a national campaign that raises awareness about teenage pregnancy, is because Latinx teens are most influenced by information that they receive from their parents about relationships and sex.

Currently, Latinas account for 1 in 7 women of reproductive age in the United States. And while unplanned teenage pregnancy is decreasing nationwide, the number of unplanned teen pregnancy rates in Latinx households remains significantly higher than non-Hispanic white and Black teens.

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Moreover, studies on teen pregnancy prevention state that one of the most effective ways to decrease these numbers is for Latinx families to speak to their children about sex. In families where young adults, including older siblings, cousins and aunts, speak to someone in their family about contraception, they are less likely to get pregnant.

Additionally, family-child communication also appears to influence the decisions of pregnant teenagers. Latina adolescents who become pregnant and who received pregnancy education from a parent are more likely to terminate a pregnancy than other teenagers.

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The power of talking in la familia is critical in decreasing negative perceptions about abortion stigma and sexual and reproductive health outcomes in Latinx adolescents. For this reason, it is imperative that we as a community must talk more openly and honestly about sex.

This is equally important in discussing safe sex in Latinx LGBTQ teens. According to the Center for Disease Control, it is estimated that 84 percent of diagnosed HIV infections in Latino men were attributed through male-to-male sexual contact. LGBTQ and gender non-binary youth who do not receive education about safe sex and what to expect from a partner are more likely to engage in unsafe sex practices. This means that, as a family, we need to talk to youth, not only about how to practice safe sex, but also educate them about sexual violence and consent.

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Sexual and reproductive health is a Latinx family issue. When one individual in our family is affected by an unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection or sexual violence — we all suffer together. For this reason, it is crucial that we, as a community, take initiative and learn to navigate conversations with kids and young adults in our family about sex, consent and contraception.

La familia es todo in Latinx households. Prioritize your family’s overall sexual and reproductive health and know that #TalkingIsPower.

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Read: For Latinx Immigrants, Language Can Be A Major Barrier From Accessing Necessary Abortion Services

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This Latina Broke The Marathon World Record At Just 16 Years Old And We’re Starting To Think She’s A Super-Human

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This Latina Broke The Marathon World Record At Just 16 Years Old And We’re Starting To Think She’s A Super-Human

At 12, Blanca Ramirez broke a global marathon record. At 16, she’s running to top her only competition: herself.

In 2015, The La Puenta, Calif.-based teen became the youngest female runner to complete seven marathons in seven different continents, running in Rwanda, New Zealand, Paraguay, China, France and Antarctica.

Her interest in international marathons started when she was 10 years old. She had just completed a long-distance running race in Disneyland and was hungry for more. She told her dad she wanted to beat the world record, but he thought she was joking at first.

“It seemed like it was something impossible,” her father Dimas Ramirez told NBC News. “I told her to prove to me she could run a marathon. She ran a 5K, then a 10K and-a-half marathon and then I let her do the Los Angeles Marathon.”

After proving to her dad that she’s fully capable of running around the world, and beating records while she’s at it, the Mexican-American teen is doing it once more — this time with the accompaniment of her younger brother.

Jordan, 9, completed his first marathon in Australia at age 8. He then ran in Egypt, crossed Europe off his list when he did 26.2 miles in London and then took to Thailand. Now, he and his big sis are headed to Antarctica and then South America. He plans to finish off in the US next April.

For Blanca, who has already accomplished the task her brother faces, joining him has been a way to show support and have some fun competition.

“At the end, we try to have a competition of who can cross the finish line first, even though we’re standing next to each other,” she told KTLA 5. “So we can be still next to each other, but I’ll make sure my foot passes it first.”

As for their dad, he’s proud of both of his children meeting their goals — but he’s also looking forward to it for reasons of his own.

“Dad’s very exhausted and I need a break,” he said. “Or they need to pick another sport.”

Read: This Indigenous Woman From Mexico Ran An Ultramarathon In Huaraches Sandals And Won Big

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This Puerto Rican Illustrator Uses Art To Explore Her Sexuality

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This Puerto Rican Illustrator Uses Art To Explore Her Sexuality

Art has the power to shift culture, and in Puerto Rico, a young illustrator is using it to help demystify female sexuality in a society where it’s largely still seen as taboo.

For the last four years, Guanina Cotto has used art as a way to explore her own sexuality, drawing erotic moments she has experienced to better understand what she likes and doesn’t like.

“It’s a tool to get to know myself,” Cotto, 25, told FIERCE. “It’s like writing for some people. For me, it’s like having a visual journal, where I draw ideas, what I’m feeling, new things I’ve explored and using it to learn about myself.”

Using Instagram as her visual diary, Cotto’s illustrations, which depict her lounging naked on a hammock, masturbating in bed, kissing other women or engaging in sexual practices with men, caught attention beyond her eyes. With more than 5 thousand followers, it’s become a site to challenge machista standards of female sexuality, gender expectations and heteronormativity on an island where public education teaches students sex is to be engaged in after marriage and where women are shamed, sometimes attacked, for daring to display their bare or scantily-dressed bodies.

The Isabela-based artist welcomes the attention her self-described “biographic soft erotic” illustrations have received, believing her portrayals could make people more comfortable seeing sexually liberated women in real life.

“My art is a way of normalizing sexuality,” she said. “Art exposes and stimulates people in many ways. I think the more people see the naked body, the more normal it will become.”

The process of normalizing an aspect of humanity that remains hush-hush, particularly in rural western municipalities like the one she lives in, comes with strains, however. In 2015, for instance, Collectivo Moriviví, a young women’s art collective based in the island’s metropolitan area, painted an anti-domestic violence mural that showed full-figured nude Black women with their faces covered. Months later, the piece, displayed in San Juan’s art district of Santurce, was defaced, with vandals drawing undergarments on the women’s bodies. For Cotto, whose work lives online, backlash to her art exists in reports to Instagram for explicit sexual content, a reprisal she says has become less frequent over the years.

Through normalizing female sexual autonomy and pleasure, Cotto believes it could help generations unlearn messages they were taught about their bodies, consent and relationships in school, through church and in their families.

She knows firsthand how detrimental these lessons on female morality and respectability are for young women trying to make sense of their desires. Growing up, Cotto attended a religious school, where educational instruction, and home lessons from her grandmother, taught her that premarital sex and self-pleasure were sins. While the artist does have a mother, who she describes as a feminist, that told her that she is in control of her body, the mixed messages impacted her connection with her body and sexuality and, as a result, her future romantic relationships.

“I grew up scared, scared of my own feelings and wants,” she said. “We grow up not knowing our own bodies and that we are capable of experiencing pleasure, too. They teach us that sex is something done to us, not for us to enjoy. We become objects, as if being beautiful and desirable is the most important thing to be.”

That fear and unfamiliarity of what healthy, respectful relationships look like, she shares, previously kept her tied to former lovers who wanted to control the way she dressed and acted in public. She believes women are less likely to stay in situations where they aren’t valued and respected if they are taught earlier in their lives that they have autonomy over their bodies.

“When we learn sexuality isn’t shameful, we can establish healthy boundaries and be more in tune with what makes us our true selves. We become empowered,” she said.

While Cotto views her art as personal, she also believes it, and others like it, have the power to allow women to feel comfortable in their bodies, own their sexuality and demand pleasure and respect. Her illustrations, which, in addition to presenting women engaging in eroticism, also depict them participating in daily activities like lounging, drawing or breast-feeding their infants nude, is often the first time people see women represented through a female’s gaze.

“When I draw the naked body of a woman, it’s not always sexual. Oftentimes, it is, but not always. For me, it’s about normalizing the body, showing the beauty of women and what it looks like to be a free woman, through a female’s gaze,” she said.

Read: After Sex Shame Led To A Porn Addiction, This Latina Is Encouraging All Women To Unlearn Ideas That Sexuality Is Dirty

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