In Michigan, 17-year-olds are not allowed to buy lottery tickets, get a tattoo, rent a car or hotel room or drop out of school. They can’t vote, serve on a jury or sign a legal contract either, presumably because they don’t possess the requisite maturity to make adult-level decisions. This distinction, however, is tossed out the window if a 17-year-old breaks the law. Suddenly, they are adults, facing devastating repercussions that can come with an adult conviction.
In our Family Keys program, a prevention program that served close to 40 percent Latina youth in 2016, there is a strong sense of familia. Familia, the sentiment of treating others like family, runs through the core of Southwest Key Programs, a Hispanic-run organization with more than 90 percent Latino staff, and is a key value in our agency.
There are few more controversial or politically charged topics than parenting. Advice columns and radio/television shows abound providing tips on the best way to raise children. Parenting, especially in this day and age of social media, when every move is constantly scrutinized, has become a touchy subject.
As “bathroom bills,” military transgender bans and elimination of protections for LGBTQ federal employees demonstrate, we are a long way from a society in which coming out is a realistic option for all. The truth of this likely hits youth the hardest, who still risk family rejection, bullying, even homelessness for coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.