Utah Students Learn About Diversity Through Hands On Research

At Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, students in the Social Work department have the opportunity to complete a research project as part of a hybrid research/statistics course.  Each semester, the research project is driven by student interest.  In the Spring of 2012, the research was focused on the diversity of student experiences and openness to diversity.

Weber State University
Weber State University

The research entitled “Wildcat nation:  Open to diversity?” used questions from the College Student Experience Questionnaire (CSEQ) along with demographic questions to analyze a student’s openness to and experience with diversity.  Through the use of social media and email, students were directed to a link to a survey to answer questions about diversity.

A sample of n=286 respondents were included in the research.  The research found that students at WSU were open to diversity and had experience with diverse interactions.   We further compared respondents on the variable of religion and whether the respondent grew up in Utah.  Because the predominant religion in Utah is LDS (Mormon), the student researchers felt this was an important variable to examine.  The variable of religion was collapsed into three categories, LDS, other, and none.  The research showed that the respondents that identified LDS as their primary religion had a lower openness score compared to those with no religion or other religion.

The same results held true for experience with diversity:  those identifying LDS as their religion had less experience with diversity than those with no or other religion.  With regards to growing up in Utah, there was no difference with regards to openness to diversity.  However, there was a statistically significant difference between those growing up in Utah on the experience with diversity scale.  People growing up in Utah were less likely to have experience with diversity than those that did not grow up in Utah.

The research found that students are open to diversity but do not have a great deal of experience with diversity.  There is a need to expand opportunities for diverse interactions on the collegiate level.  Because Utah is a state unique in its religious demographic, students prior coming to college may have more limited experiences, putting the onus of responsibility on the academic environment to expand these experiences especially since students appear to be open to these experiences.

LGBTQ Youth in Schools

safeschools

No one should be afraid to be gay or an LGBTQ individual at school.

Just recently, another bullying effect was captured by the media in the UK. In the suburbs of York, in one of the public schools in the area, an 11 year old boy was bullied because of his intention not to hide who he is.

Over a short discussion with his parents, the boy has been terrified by his peers and threatened to be beaten and someday even dead, because of his unwillingness to change who he is. He does not wish to return to his school life currently as he is emotionally and psychosocial terrified of the people surrounding him. I know the picture on the right is intimidating, but that is how reality is for all the children that are bullied in schools because of their sexual orientation.

The boy suffered emotional, psychological, and physical abuse. he was called several names, including a disgrace for his parents. He was kicked to the ground and a chair was broken on his back. His backpack was thrown in the fields while some of his peers tried to humiliate him by stealing his clothes.

What I want from this post, is to raise your thoughts on the issue. If we all try to think what consequences such an event will have on the boy’s life in the future and while growing up.

No one should ever be afraid to be him or herself in the school environment. There are many different issues arising from this instance. Bullying has expanded drastically due to the unintended rage of the youth, which may be based on social reasoning.

How could anyone “blame” their peers for such a behavior? A behaviour that has been copied from the social world kids know of. 11 year old children, almost teenagers, have been through socialization that promotes and enhances such behaviors, as opposed to “shut them down”.

Then again, what about social policies, programs, and services that the schools have to offer? What about the teachers and the staff who are there on a daily basis and experience the institutional culture of the school? What about the parents who receive messages from their children that something is wrong, or that they cause wrong ((in the case of a bully)? What about the decision makers, especially in the UK at this time, when the strands of Equality and Diversity have been revised and enhanced more?

Creating hate for who we are is not accepted by a certain number of people or populations or cultures, and should be unacceptable in the contemporary world where development and evolution take place. The science of social work should see through these occasions and grasp the challenges that arise, take a step forward, create policies, raise awareness, and network and/or link people and organizations. It is crucial for social workers to understand to distinguish what the professional values are and promote those to the systems that request assistance.

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