Nashville Voters Suppress English-Only Legislation as Conflict Resolution Center Graduates Its First Class of Bilingual Mediators
Friday, December, 21, 2012
The most recent census data reveals that there are over 50.5 million Hispanics in the United States, comprising 16.3% of the total population of the country. The numbers show that the nation’s Hispanic population has grown by 43% in the last decade, making Hispanics the fastest growing group in the country.
This growing demographic has highlighted an equally growing need to provide bilingual services, including bilingual mediation, to Hispanics across the country. However, some states are attempting to pass legislation to make it more difficult for the Hispanic population who are not fluent in English to go about their day-to-day lives. One such state is Tennessee. Just last year, voters struck down a proposed referendum that would have required all government communication to be printed in English, only, without translation for those who need it.
In a concerted response for a positive alternative to this referendum—as well as others across the nation like it—the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center graduated its first class of trained bilingual mediators who will be put in place to help Nashville’s increasingly diverse communities. After completing 32 hours of training at the Lipscomb University Institute for Conflict Management, these graduates will now provide Spanish/English mediation services at the Woodbine United Methodist Church. Although the English-only referendum was struck down by voters, there is still a definite need for bilingual services to help the Hispanic communities in Nashville.
Beginning as an outreach arm of the Nashville Bar Association, the nonprofit Nashville Conflict Resolution Center accepts contributions in its continuing efforts to assist the Hispanic community. They also provide mediation services for the Davidson County General Sessions Court in the Nashville area. In response to the most recent graduating class and the enormous efforts the city faces in bridging the gap between the Hispanic community and the politicians in Tennessee, the Executive Director of Lipscomb University’s Institute for Conflict Management, Larry Bridgesmith, stated “Having people who speak both English very well and Spanish very well will be a huge help. The issue of immigration and all of the cross cultural diversity of our city has raised the levels of tension."
Nashville Conflict Resolution Center mediator, Leoncio Dominguez, had this to say about the significance of the program: "Yes, it can save lives, definitely, definitely. Lives, grief and many other things."