Body Republics

The discussion around reproductive health has been polarized and politicized. BODY REPUBLICS is a short documentary that depicts the political atmosphere surrounding Latina youth sexuality and reproductive justice. At its center, the film follows the trajectory of Monica Flores as she faces discrimination as a young Latina mother, to using those experiences to advocate for reproductive health rights through legislation.


We hope this film will be a tool for Latino sexual health advocates to mobilize and organize constituents and educate policy makers in an effort to advance instrumental changes that support Latino youth sexual health and educational attainment. Through BODY REPUBLICS we hope to:

  1. Define reproductive justice as the link between reproductive health and social justice and illustrate how one's sexual health rights are undermined by external factors.
  2. Demonstrate how policies can be an important to tool to protecting one's sexual health rights but also depicting it's limitation in implementation.
  3. Encourage the Latino community to challenge and overcome their reproductive oppression by getting involved in the reproductive justice movement.



Discussion Guide*

    BODY REPUBLICS reflects and advocates for progressive policies that protect Latina/o youth's reproductive rights and encourage educational attainment. We hope this discussion guide can help promote a paradigm shift that reframes Latina/o youth sexuality and advances the field of reproductive justice through the power of policy implementation and through the incentive of community mobilization.

    Themes explored:

    • The Advocacy for equal Reproductive Justice / Reproductive Health Care / Reproductive Rights
    • The Importance of Policy Implementation
    • The Necessity for Community Mobilization within Latina/o youth and their communities


    • What is reproductive justice?
    • What are some of the myths of Latina/o youth sexuality?

    Laura Jimenez, Executive Director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) says: "The Theory of Intersectionality says that all people women exist sort of at this intersection of their identities, so I might be Chicana, I'm a woman, I'm heterosexual, I'm a mother, I could be a student, or I could be an immigrant there's all these different things that make up who I am and at that intersection we really needed to look at sort of reproductive health and rights in a different way."

    • What does Laura mean by "Theory of Intersectionality" and how does it tie with Reproductive Health?

    Phyllida Burlingame, Reproductive Justice Policy Director at American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU) says: "Policy is a really important lever, it sets the stage for other work and it's something that you can use to hold others accountable. So policy is an essential part of the equation, the thing that I think sometimes people misunderstand is that you can't stop with passing a policy."

    • What does Phyllida mean by stating, "policy is a really important lever"?

    Phyllida Burlingame continues with: "So passing statewide policy that's supportive of your goals is really important but its not enough. And I think that's where sometimes people get tied up. Is they think well we're gonna pass this law, we've passed it! Hurray we're done. And in fact no, often passing the policy can be the easy part. Implementing the policy is where a lot of the elbow grease really comes in." 

    • Phyllida states in broader terms that passing a policy isn't enough. Why is that?
    • What is the importance of policy?
    • What are the problems with policy?
    • Why is implementation of policies essential?

    Monica Flores, Youth Organizer at the Young Mother's United (YWU) at the Center for Young Women's Development (CYWD) says: "I think for reproductive justice that's the biggest issue, who should have the say so. Normal people would think its obvious, the individual person." 

    • Monica says that the biggest issue for reproductive justice is defining who should make the decisions about reproductive rights. Who do you believe should make the decisions in regards to the overall spectrum of reproductive justice?
    • Why is it important for Latinas to let their voices be heard?
    • Monica says that people usually get involved with policy only if something affects them personally. Do you agree with this? If yes, what experience did you personally have that had a direct relation to policy? 

    Claire Brindis, DrPH, MPH, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences says: "I think the only thing I would want to include or share is we need to give young people a chance. I feel that we're often very biased against young people often times we're afraid of young people we're stereotyping them. And I find also because young people can sometimes look tough and look big and you know there's just that outside appearance that sometimes can really scare adults."

    • Do you agree with Dr. Claire Brindi's view that adults fear children? Why or Why not? Why might this dichotomy exist?
    • How can we encourage a greater dialogue between the adolescents or the teenagers and the adults?


    Partner Organizations

    California Latinas for Reproductive Justice

    CLRJ is a statewide policy and advocacy organization whose mission is to advance California Latinas' reproductive health and rights within a social justice and human rights framework. CLRJ works to ensure that policy developments reflect Latinas' priority needs, as well as those of their families and their communities.

    The Center for Young Women's Development

    The Center for Young Women's Development was founded in 1993 and was started by Lateefa Simon. CYWD's mission is to provide gender-specific, peer-based opportunities for high-risk, low and no income women to build healthier lives and communities through youth organizing and youth leadership development. The programs offered at CYWD engage young women that have been marginalized to have a place to heal, achieve self-sufficiency and become positively engaged in their communities; and to empower young women to move beyond surviving and become their own best advocates. The programs they offer include: Sisters Rising, Young Mothers United Parenting classes (participants earn $25 for each class attended), and this January will launch the Policy workshop, a 12 week course to teach about the policy process and legislation- young women will go up to Sacramento and lobby and participate in the actual policy process.

    ACLU of Northern California

    For more than a decade, the ACLU-NC has been working to ensure that sex education in public schools is science-based, free of bias, medically accurate and age-appropriate. The law they co-sponsored with Planned Parenthood in 2004 has become a model for other states and for the national REAL (Responsible Education About Life) Act. After years of Bush Administration support for ineffective, biased and harmful abstinence-only education, the nation is poised to take a new direction, and many are looking to California as a leader. Despite California's significant progress, much remains to be done to implement our legislation and guarantee that students in classrooms across the state are being taught comprehensive sex education. The strategy is to work both at the school district level with parent activists and at the state level to properly enforce comprehensive sex education.


      Facts and Resources


      • Sexuality has been used to stigmatize and control people along racial lines. Racism and sexuality are historically linked. Asencio, M. & Battle, J. 2010. Introduction to Special Issue: Black and Latina/o Sexualities. Sex Res Sec Policy, 7, 67-69.
      • People of color experience sexuality under oppression and through multiple identities (i.e. a black, lesbian woman). Introduction to Special Issue: Black and Latina/o Sexualities by Marysol Asencio & Juan Battle
      • The fact that Hispanic is associated with foreignness can also be seen in questions Latinos often get about their origins. Many US-born Latinos and Latinas report that when they are asked where they from, the answer California or Texas only begets the well-known follow up: "But Where are you really from?" Dropping the Hyphen? Becoming Latino/a - American through Racialized Assimilation, Tanya Golash-Boza, Social Forces, Vol. 85, No. 1 (Sep., 2006), pp. 27-55 Published by: University of North Carolina Press
      • Pointing to the fact that Hispanic students are more segregated in the educational realm than whites, blacks, or Asians, some analysts have attributed low levels of Hispanic achievement and attainment to poor schools and unqualified teachers. In Texas, Hispanic students attending public schools are more likely to be taught by uncertified teachers than their white counterparts, and they are more likely to drop out relative to other students. The Role of Familism in Explaining the Hispanic-White College Application Gap, Matthew Desmond and Ruth N. López Turley, Social Problems, Vol. 56, No. 2 (May 2009), pp. 311-334 Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of Social Problems
      • The modern image of the teenager is represented in the media as a distorted image that is similar to the traditional stereotypes and how this image derives from false attributions that have been promoted by official agencies and interest groups. Bashing Youth: Media Myths About Teenagers By Mike Males
      • Teens [are] misrepresented through the media but also are influenced by sexual images and messages that the media portrays. Culture and Medicine: Myths and Medicine, Katherine Callen King Department of Comparative Literature, Jerome R. Hoffman Emergency Medicine Center, University of California Los Angeles, CA 90095, West J. Med 2000; 172:208
      • Youth that live in urban areas are misrepresented as being a violent group of youths while undermining the causes of the violence that takes place. Moral Panic Over Youth Violence: Wilding and the Manufacture of Menace in the Media, MICHAEL WELCH, ERIC A. PRICE and NANA YANKEY Youth Society 2002
      • Urban teens tend to be stereotyped into a "dangerous minority group consisting of Black and Latino youth. Moral Panic Over Youth Violence: Wilding and the Manufacture of Menace in the Media, MICHAEL WELCH, ERIC A. PRICE and NANA YANKEY Youth Society 2002



      Find Your Legislator ~

      Strong Families ~

      The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health ~

      Family Service Agency of San Francisco ~

      San Francisco's Department of Children, Youth & Their Families ~


          Meet the Filmmakers

            CHRISTA COLLINS was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, but proud to call San Francisco her second home. Over the past 14 years I have experienced numerous events that have shaped and guided my passion for policy and women's rights. Especially in the recent political climate, women's advocacy is at the forefront of our collective minds. With my personal and educational background, I am an invaluable resource and collaborator for Body Republic. My wish is that those who walk away from this film understand that we can all make a difference if the pertinent knowledge is presented to the people, and that the people remain passionate.


              JOSHUA CONTRERAS was born and raised in the diverse city of San Francisco within the golden state of California. He is proud to be a first-generation university student currently achieving his B.A. in Cinema with an emphasis in Production, Directing, and Screenwriting by the end of Spring of 2012. Right from a very young age he found a passion in the fine arts and ever since has self-taught himself in drawing and painting. He finds great pleasure of seeing his artistic technique develop through years of trial and error, meanwhile keeping in mind the quote that "practice makes perfect". He equally has great respect and love for the art form of music as his love of music reaches back to his Latin roots and his Nicaraguan heritage. At the very young age of 8, he got the privilege of being a member of the San Francisco Boys Chorus (SFBC), an experience that he cherishes up to this present day as he was witness of the different set of emotions that people express through the power of music. Growing up, his interests inclined into the prospect of becoming an architect as he admires the discipline and the aesthetic of design and planning required in architecture. His prospects and aspirations soon discovered the boundless art form of filmmaking where he immediately saw the fusion of all the other art forms that encompass his life along with his desire to travel the world. Overall, he looks forward to the future collaborative process and the development of films that will observe a plethora of visions, themes, and transmit messages relevant to our society as well as original narratives that will inspire the mind of the audience. His ultimate dream is to someday leave his footprint well-set in the film industry as an innovative Film Director, Producer, Screenwriter, and last but never least: an Artist.


                AUBREY MOODY 

                ALFONSO SOLIS is a cinema major with a minor in anthropology and hopes to pursue a career in documentary filmmaking, seeing it as a bridge between his two passions: cinema and anthropology. Through the works of Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu, Emily Martin and Eric Wolf he became enamored with social and anthropological theory and wished to link it in a meaningful way with cinema. He currently works at Link TV as editor of the show, Mosaic: World News of the Middle East and will be traveling to China later this year to film another documentary. His work on Body Republics has inspired him to pursue filmmaking with a social justice perspective and he plans to eventually attend grad school to pursue visual anthropology or perhaps a special study combining medical anthropology and videography. 


                *The information on these pages is provided by the student film makers and does not represent an endorsement or verification of statements from the Health Equity Institute