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Project MALES Releases Research Brief Examining Community Cultural Wealth of Undocumented LGBTQ Students

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The Project MALES Research Institute has released a new research brief examining the experiences of undocumented and queer Latinx students in K-12 and post high school. The brief is authored by Juan A. Ríos Vega, assistant professor in the Department of Education at Bradley University.

The researcher analyzed the high school and post-graduation experiences of a queer, undocumented student named Juan as he navigated multiple challenges on his path to college. Ríos Vega examined Juan’s journey through various frameworks, including Critical Race Theory, which analyzes how issues of race, gender and class intersect while shaping the experiences of students of color. He also explored the many ways Juan developed “community cultural wealth,” a term ascribed to an array of knowledge, skills, abilities and contacts utilized by communities of color to survive and resist racism and other forms of oppression.

“Juan’s case represents a story of adversity, resilience and personal success,” Ríos Vega stated in the brief. “It is important to understand that undocumented students that happen to self-identify as LGBTQ deal with more layers of marginalization than straight, documented and undocumented Latinx students. Being an openly queer Latinx male was never easy for him but in May 2018, Juan graduated from college.”

Ríos Vega highlighted the need for teachers, counselors and school administrators to see students’ cultural wealth as an authentic asset in their education.

“Instead of perpetuating a deficit thinking model toward Communities of Color—with myths such as acculturation and assimilation—teachers, counselors and school administrators need to understand and remind students of color that their best assets in their educational journey come from home,” Ríos Vega noted.

With this research brief, Project MALES seeks to amplify scholarship focused on men of color in education across the country. Read the full report.

More about Project MALES: Housed within UT Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) is a research and mentoring initiative committed to advancing the educational outcomes of male students of color at the local, state and national level.