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Judge Rules Arizona Educators Were Discriminating Against Mexican-American Studies

Twitter/@HighTechAztec, @ZinnEdProject

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima ruled that students in Arizona had a constitutional right to have Mexican-American studies as part of their curriculum. That’s right, Judge Tashima ruled that a ban against Mexican-American studies, imposed by former state education leaders Tom Horne and John Huppenthal, was racist and fueled by their politics.

The ruling is a win for students in Arizona, including Mexican-American students denied an education about their own history and culture.

“Additional evidence shows that defendants were pursuing these discriminatory ends in order to make political gains. Horne and Huppenthal repeatedly pointed to their efforts against the MAS program in their respective 2011 political campaigns, including in speeches and radio advertisements. The issue was a political boon to the candidates,” Tashima wrote.

The case against Mexican-American studies (MAS) first began in 2012, after the Tucson Unified School District said the Mexican-American studies program was teaching students that white people were oppressive to minorities.

Students and teachers sued, saying it was their First Amendment right to have this program as part of their curriculum. The Huffington Post notes that lawyers for the plaintiffs claimed Arizona Republicans “violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment” because they only targeted Mexican-American studies (MAS) classes in one Latino-heavy district.

As news of the verdict came out, people on Twitter celebrated the victory.

Curtis Acosta, one of the teachers banned from teaching MAS in his classrooms, tweeted “Justicia!”

We won on all points,” Richard Martinez, one of six lawyers defending the students, said to The Huffington Post. “It speaks to the importance of the judiciary and protecting everyone against racial discrimination.”

Horne, one of the defendants who claimed the MAS program taught students hatred of white people, said this ruling “divides students by race and promotes ethnic chauvinism.” He added: “[I]t is a fundamental American ideal that we are all individuals, entitled to be judged by our knowledge and character, and not by what race we happen to have been born into,” Horne said in a statement, according to ABC News.

Huppenthal, the other defendant in the case, told ABC News that he was “not surprised by the ruling” and that it was “meaningless because the law is not likely to be enforced in the future.”

“The concern about what was going on in those classes was very real,” Huppenthal said, and added that he’s worried if “they crank up all that stuff of teaching students that Caucasians are oppressors of Hispanics.”

Whether a new MAS program will be implemented is unknown, but for now, people will celebrate this victory.

Click here to read Judge Tashima’s ruling.

READ: This Mexican-American Teacher Has Been Put On Leave For Comparing Trump To Hitler

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Laith Ashley De La Cruz Talks About His Journey From Health Care Worker To Health Care Advocate

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Laith Ashley De La Cruz Talks About His Journey From Health Care Worker To Health Care Advocate

Laith Ashley / Facebook / @laith_ashley / Instagram

Laith Ashley De La Cruz worked for an LGBTQ health organization in New York City before becoming a full-time model and social media star. As a child of immigrants living in New York City, De La Cruz saw firsthand the fear and misinformation that runs through many immigrant communities that prevents people from accessing necessary healthcare. De La Cruz recently spoke on mitú‘s panel, “A Conversation With America: Know Your Health Rights,” hosted by actor and advocate Jaime Camil. He sat down with mitú before the panel to talk about the state of health care for immigrants.

Trans model and activist Laith Ashley De La Cruz is personally familiar with the healthcare issues facing immigrants.

For one, De La Cruz is the child of immigrants and grew up in a predominately immigrant community. That upbringing made him notice one common obstacle preventing immigrants from getting healthcare.

“Immigrants have this fear, especially if they are undocumented, that ‘la migra’ will find them,” De La Cruz says. “I worked at an LGBT health center in New York and one of the biggest issues when trying to get folks to sign up for healthcare was that they were afraid to give their personal information. They thought that if they were undocumented and the government found out that they had healthcare that someone was out to get them.”

As for trans immigrants seeking healthcare, De La Cruz says that respect plays a bigger role.

“For trans people, [healthcare] is even more difficult because you are hoping that this person understands you,” De La Cruz says. “[You hope] they’re not going to judge you for being ‘different’ and that they’re going to be respectful of your pronouns and your journey. A lot of the time, that’s just not the case.”

De La Cruz believes that respect from medical professionals is crucial to further proper healthcare information for trans people who fear being humiliated when seeking medical advice. Without respect for the patient, it is hard to build the trust necessary to ease those fears and encourage trans people to seek healthcare.

The recent statements made by President Donald Trump, banning trans people from serving in the military because of a “financial burden” they create, haven’t helped to better understanding and respect for the trans community.

De La Cruz says Donald Trump has “no idea how the military works,” and is creating a false narrative on why trans people join the military.

“The misconception that trans people are joining the military solely for medical reasons is ridiculous,” says De La Cruz. “They’re risking their lives. They’re fighting on the front lines for our liberty here in the States so for him to have said that is completely ridiculous.”

De La Cruz only needs to look to one of his best friends, military veteran and trans activist Shane Ortega.

“He was one of the folks who was right there in the movement trying to get rights for trans people in the military,” he says. “He told me that it was very difficult for him to navigate the system, but he was able to.”

“You need to get educated,” De La Cruz tells people about healthcare access.

De La Cruz says people need to do more than just understand the basics of the healthcare system in the U.S. People also need to learn which organizations have the best interest of the community in the heart of their mission. For Latinos, that means finding healthcare or social advocacy organizations that can break down information so they can benefit to the fullest.

He admits that he hasn’t spent a lot of time advocating for immigrant healthcare access, but that’s about to change.

Now that he has a decent social media following, De La Cruz plans on using his influence to start spreading the word about the importance of healthcare access for immigrants. He wants immigrants to understand that there is help for them to get the healthcare they deserve.

De La Cruz considers a lack of empathy in society as a major reason immigrants struggle to receive healthcare.

“People need to understand that even though they are not personally affected by something that other people face, in the grand scheme of things, it is possible that they can be affected,” De La Cruz says. “You should care for other people, not just yourself. There are other people who are facing all sorts of crises and you should be able to acknowledge that these things are an issue. Just because it doesn’t directly affect you now doesn’t mean that it won’t in the long run.”

Now, De La Cruz plans on showing how intersectionality plays a major role in the healthcare debate.

“Part of my job now is to speak at universities and I’m oftentimes asked to speak on different panels,” De La Cruz explains. “I do talk about healthcare issues with the trans community, but now I am looking to tie it in with the immigrant community as well.”

You can watch De La Cruz talk more about the importance of healthcare access for immigrants below.

A Conversation With America: Know Your Health Rights

Join us for A Conversation With America: Know Your Health Rights, streaming LIVE with host Jaime Camil and special guests Laith Ashley, Joanna Cifredo & more.

Millions of undocumented immigrants make this country great. Their health matters too.

#Health4All #LCHCthrive

Posted by We are mitú on Thursday, August 17, 2017

READ: 9 Latinx LGBTQ People Who Deserve An ‘Out Magazine’ Cover More Than This White Supremacist

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