Sex should not be taboo among Latino Catholics

By Kimberly Vazquez, Copy Editor

Kimberly Vazquez


There are countless religious bracelets around my wrist, yet I cannot help but feel as though I have been unfaithful.

My life and culture as a Mexican American has been entrenched in Catholicism.

It is the only religion that I have known so intimately, which is incredibly ironic because the idea of intimacy and any exploration of it within the community is shunned, it’s taboo. It is something only to be shared with your significant other.

Some quick stats:

  • 40% of the world’s total Catholic population comes from Latin America.
  • 55% of U.S. Latinos identify as Catholic, according to Pew Research Center.
  • 80% of Mexico’s population are Catholics.

Here’s the thing: many of us do not know what we’re doing when it comes to sex. The closest thing to sex education is a simple, “You will know when you are older,” or the typical, “Say ‘no’ until marriage or God will punish you.”

Our curiosity becomes the responsibility of someone else, be it a higher being, a partner, or our parents.

The United States holds the “opt-out” policy when it comes to sex education. According to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, “opt-out” policies require school districts to send written notifications before a sex education class.

The written notification must also include information regarding the material that will be taught and who will be teaching it. The parent must then inform the district if they do not want their child attending these lessons. This policy essentially limits the already scarce resources students have. The choice is no longer theirs.

In cities such as Los Angeles, Catholic parents are encouraged to know these policies because of the Catholic belief that a child’s education must be decided by the parent. The decision ultimately comes down to the parents.

On a personal level, my parents have been somewhat liberal when it comes to sex education. I wouldn’t say I was taught extensively about sex; I was simply told that the day would come when I found someone who I would be comfortable sharing the experience with. My parents left out the extra details.

My brother on the other hand was given condoms.

That’s where I feel the tricky part lies within this entire debacle–the preservation of purity, especially with Latina women. Catholicism bestows the role of dutiful wife upon the woman, and with Catholicism being so significant to the cultural identity of Latinos, sex is further frowned upon when a woman wishes to explore any avenue of intimacy.

I am grateful to my parents for trying. Still, growing up Catholic, I wasn’t exactly encouraged to educate myself on these matters, but as a woman, I felt it was essential to know. I wanted to understand my own image, but there was always a lack of resources. The only thing I knew in regards to a woman’s image was the iconography of the Virgin Mary.

My faith and identity as a Latina will always be important to me. As I grow, I know that practicing my belief does not need to feel restrained. It’s essential to understand our entire being, our needs, and our wants if we wish to fully exist within ourselves.

Editor’s Note: This story is a part of the Chronicle’s annual Sex Issue which will be published mid-February.