Why is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy on Cinco de Mayo?

Today is Cinco de Mayo. It is not, contrary to popular belief, Mexican Independence Day. It’s actually a celebration of the Mexican victory over the French in a battle in 1862. Many also point out that the holiday is more celebrated in the US than in Mexico. But either way, it’s a day that is associated with Latinos, and often celebrated through cultural appropriation and eating things like guacamole and drinking tequila. But that’s another post.

This year, Cinco de Mayo is also the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

This day is hosted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. I was hoping that the date this year (which was different than last year’s–hosted on May 4) was just a coincidence. Unfortunately, I was wrong. This is from an email to their listserve for the Latino initiative:

The 2010 National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is on Cinco de Mayo
Celebrate the ninth annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy on Wednesday, May 5, 2010–on Cinco de Mayo! Not sure what National Day is…esta bien! We’ve developed a National Day FAQ and a brochure that explain what National Day is, and what you can do to raise awareness among teens about the importance of making wise decisions about relationships and sex.

There are many things wrong with teen pregnancy prevention programs. They often shame young parents, they use messaging that is culturally incompetent and often downright offensive.

These programs are also often diverting funds from other types of programs that would likely do more to reduce teen pregnancy–educational opportunities, leadership development, comprehensive sexuality education.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health released their own report on Monday about teen pregnancy prevention targeted at Latina youth, focusing on how we can reduce stigma.

Prevention programs aren’t what we need. Instead, we need to ensure that all young people have access to education, employment, mentorship and health information so they can make informed decisions about when to parent.

Coordinating the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy with Cinco de Mayo unfairly paints teen parenting as a Latina “problem” and is just in bad taste.

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