087: Diversity Training for Church Settings

12342615_10153912958454474_8316576070702063711_nNatasha Helfer Parker interviews Dr. Roni Jo Draper, BYU-Provo professor of teacher education, regarding the multicultural education she offers students preparing to enter classroom settings. Dr. Draper says it well when she states that any one of the topics covered in this podcast would represent life-long work for particular researchers and professionals. Therefore, these are just snippets and snapshots meant to foster self-awareness regarding personal and systemic bias. Dr. Draper does an excellent job of taking the information she shares in her classrooms and making it applicable to our ward and stake settings as we interact with each other as members of the LDS church –  in classroom settings, leadership settings, and social settings. Any leader, teacher, administrator and/or ward member would benefit from listening to Dr. Draper address such pivotal issues such as race, ethnicity and culture, immigration, social class, religion, gender, sexuality, and concepts around group dynamics. These  subjects show up in every ward and stake across the world. And in a church where, in spite of global growth and membership, is still run primarily by caucasian, middle to upper class, heterosexual men, multicultural and diversity training is sorely needed. In a setting where the Gospel of Jesus Christ should be accessible to all, we want to avoid discrimination and microagressions at all cost.

Dr. Roni Jo Draper is married and the mother of three sons (two of whom identify as straight, and one of whom identifies as queer). Two of her sons came into her family in conventional ways. Her third son came by simply requesting a place in the family. She has enjoyed mothering all of her boys. She has appreciated the opportunity to help her son make sense of his sexuality and his place in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her family also consists of two daughter-in-laws and two grandsons. Dr. Draper is a professor of teacher education at Brigham Young University-Provo where she teaches courses in literacy and multicultural education. She earned her bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her current scholarship focuses on the preparation of future teachers to create opportunities for all children to learn and to thrive regardless of race, class, religion, language, sexuality, or gender. A convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dr. Draper has enjoyed activity as an LDS woman for more than thirty years—serving primarily in the Sunday School and Young Women organizations.

Many thanks to The Lower Lights for the beautiful bumper music and to Brian Dillman for audio production of this podcast.  Natasha Helfer Parker runs a private practice in Wichita, KS and writes at The Mormon Therapist for Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith.

Donations to Mormon Mental Health are tax deductible and go directly to support the costs of producing the podcast.  If and when donations exceed these costs, they will go to support trainings, research, materials development, and financial support for those who need help affording appropriate therapy services.

6 comments for “087: Diversity Training for Church Settings

  1. April 3, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Very helpful as to helping me understand why it’s important to respect how someone wants to be identified is Roni Jo’s story of how although she’s biracial people told her “well you look white”, and how when she had to check one box on the race section of a form she wondered whether she should disrespect her mother or her father. excellent discussion so far!

  2. April 3, 2016 at 8:45 am

    I love the idea that Utah and other fairly homogeneous populations need to start thinking more in terms of those people who might someday be in the room with us that are different than us, and start making an effort to respect those differences now even though they might not be with us now.

  3. April 3, 2016 at 8:56 am

    It’s fascinating that we can identify our Culture by the lingo that we use and even by the way that we pray. The Rock Climbing Gym example was very Vivid for me to help me understand how others could come into my culture and feel initially very uncomfortable and unsure how to act.

  4. April 3, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Oh yikes! When you began talking about prosperity and righteousness I began to realize that I have done that kind of thing by looking at someone who is in poverty and thinking without knowing anything about them that maybe they need to make more righteous choices in their lives so that they can have more prosperity. So that’s something that I need to work on and I am currently guilty as charged 😉

  5. April 3, 2016 at 9:13 am

    I really enjoyed the discussion of multiracial families and how we can’t find pictures in our gospel art kit of that kind of thing. I’m listening to this podcast on Sunday morning of April 2016 LDS General Conference and yesterday I was very impressed that it seems like the leaders of the church are just beginning to take these kinds of things into account, such as Elder Anderson’s discussion of being sensitive to children who don’t have fathers when we sing the song” I’m so glad when Daddy comes home”,, and I think that President uchtdorf and probably 2 or 3 other talks that talked about the validity of different kinds of families and how we should respect each of those kinds of families.

  6. April 3, 2016 at 9:26 am

    I love your discussion about the concept of “the only true church”, and how exclusionary that can sound. I cringed a little bit yesterday during LDS General Conference when one of the leaders used that very term, because interestingly it’s not even an accurate term ( Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants actually says “the only true and Living Church with which I the Lord am well pleased…”). And it’s ironic that people in the church who use the term, when we point that out, say something like “well they should know what I mean by that”. There are a lot of people who don’t belong to the church who can’t possibly know what we mean by that and it’s almost sad that as we try to bring the blessings of the church to more people that we are not more concerned about how they feel about some of the inane and actually inaccurate things that we say.

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