LATINO VOICES
02/24/2016 02:53 pm ET

Most Latinos Don’t Believe They Need To Be Able To Do This To Be Latino

A new survey revealed a majority of Latinos don't think fluency in Spanish is required to be Latino.

Is it necessary to speak Spanish in order to be considered Latino? Well, that depends on who you ask

A recent Pew Research survey, released Friday, found that though a majority of Latinos feel it's important that future generations speak Spanish, many do not believe Spanish is a necessary component of Latino identity.

According to the report, 71 percent of Latinos do not think speaking Spanish is necessary to be considered Latino, whereas only 28 percent feel that it is.

"Among Hispanics, views on speaking Spanish and Hispanic identity differ," wrote Mark Hugo Lopez, the director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Center in a Pew blog post. "Though majorities of all key subgroups say speaking Spanish isn't necessary to be considered Hispanic." 

Of the 1,500 Latino adults surveyed for Pew’s 2015 National Survey of Latinos, 87 percent of U.S.-born and 58 percent of foreign-born participants said fluency in Spanish is not required to be Latino. 

However, 95 percent of all respondents said they do think "it is important that future generations speak Spanish."

“While language use differs among Hispanics -- some speak only English, some speak only Spanish and some are bilingual -- Spanish is still a characteristic that, for the most part, unites much of group,” Lopez said. "About three-quarters of Latinos, no matter where they are from, speak Spanish at home." 

The role Spanish plays in the Latino identity is a hot button topic that's widely disputed among Latinos, everywhere, including family gatherings, among friends, online and even in the media

Chicago-raised, Puerto Rican actress Gina Rodriguez has repeatedly spoken out against the notion that fluency is necessary to be Latino. The actress explained to HuffPost Live in October why her parents chose to raise her speaking English. "They wanted to assimilate us into a culture that wouldn't, right away, put up their guard against us because of our accent," she said.

“I am as Latina as they come,” she continued. “And I am not defined by anybody's definition of Latina.”  

Latino culture is too rich, diverse and beautiful to ever be reduced to a single trait. So be proud and keep speaking out -- in whatever language you choose. 

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