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Promotoras en Accíon: The Discursive and Pedagogical Practices of Latina Immigrants Doing Queer Advocacy Work

  • Author(s): Marquez, Rigoberto
  • Advisor(s): Philip, Thomas M
  • et al.
Abstract

This qualitative study examine the discursive and pedagogical practices of a group of immigrant Latina mothers in Los Angeles who teach a workshop series that engages Latina/o parents and community members in conversations about queer Latina/o issues. The LGBT Acceptance Project is an LGBT curriculum designed and taught by the Promotoras of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. For the dissertation study, I was interested in how the Promotoras engaged parents and community members in conversations about gender, race and sexuality within a Latina/o context. I was also interested in the identities of the Promotoras as women who work for Planned Parenthood and their roles as advocates and allies for queer communities. Two research questions guided this study: 1) What are the pedagogical and discursive practices that inform the Promotoras teaching of the LGBT Acceptance Project? 2) How do the Promotoras understand their ally identity and how does this inform their teaching and daily lives as heterosexual Latina allies engaged in queer activism? Interviews and observations were the two sources of data collection used in the study. I conducted three interviews with each of the Promotoras who teach the LGBT Acceptance Project. The interviews focused on their life histories, their pedagogical approaches to their teaching of the LGBT Acceptance Project and their identities as advocates and allies for queer communities. I also collected observation data from seven workshop series. Adapting the work of Kumashiro (2000) on anti-oppressive teaching strategies, I documented four types of exchanges within the workshop series I argue lead to new understandings about power and oppression, within a Latina/o context.

The first chapter in the dissertation that describes my findings addresses the Promotoras identities as allies and advocates for queer youth. I begin the chapter with introductory portraits of each of the Promotoras. The portraits are followed by narratives of three Promotoras that offered distinct experiences of how they understand their identities as allies and advocates for queer communities.

The second chapter describes my findings where I discuss the different ways Maria Felix engaged parents in conversations about queer communities. Within the workshop space, several tools and techniques are used by Maria Felix that create different opportunities for parents to engage in conversations about queer communities. Three themes within the teaching emerged from my observations. The first is the LGBTQ Experience and Becoming Allies, which addressed how parents came to understand the experiences of queer youth and how they saw their roles as advocates and allies. The second theme is Relational and Intersectional Understanding of the Queer Latina/o Experience, focused on how Maria Felix gets parents to understand the intersectional forms of oppression queer Latina/o youth experience. The final theme, Humanizing Queer Latina/o Youth, demonstrates the different ways Maria Felix tries to evoke feelings of empathy and compassion from parents for queer communities.

In the final chapter of the dissertation, I discuss several of the challenges and tensions in doing queer Latina/o advocacy work and offer some approaches the Promotoras can take to create more critical spaces when engaging in conversations about race, gender and sexuality. I conclude the dissertation with conversation on what I am calling a “community-based model for queer of color praxis work in education” and how I believe the Promotoras work and teaching of the LGBT Acceptance Project provides one example of how we approach a community-based model to queer of color praxis work in education.

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