SLCC Professor Shows Bias toward Plural Families

February 3, 2020

It is well known that a large percentage of DCCS members attend public colleges and universities.  We appreciate the opportunity our students have to go to school and gain a higher education.  We'd like to thank and express our appreciation for the administration, professors and staff of our public colleges and universities who have been supportive of our students and who have shown a dedication to excellence in the field of education.

Although we've found many supportive individuals, at times our students have reported experiencing biases from their instructors and their peers.  Sometimes even college administrators have been known to show animus and bias toward the children of plural families.  In the past, these young students have been pressured to stay silent for fear of reprisals.  We hope to give a voice to students experiencing bias, but also to strike a more balanced tone between our students and the educators who work very hard at what they do.

The following account is from a female student at SLCC:

"Hello, I am 16 years old, and the first child and daughter of my mother who has 13 children.  My mom is my dad’s second wife and it was her own choice to marry him.  I am a member of a group called the Co-op based in Salt Lake City, UT and my dad’s last name is Kingston.

I want to give a little background on myself before I tell about the experience I had on January 28, 2020.

I love my parents dearly and I feel like I have a very wonderful life.  My mom and dad have been very loving, and my best friends are my sisters and half sisters.  I was born in Salt Lake City and have lived here in the area all my life.  My mom graduated with her Masters degree from the University of Utah just before my 7th birthday and I felt like I always wanted to follow her example and go to college.  With a lot of hard work and support from my parents, I am on track to graduate with my Generals Certificate in college at the same time I earn my High School diploma.

This week, I was in my English 1010 college class at the Salt Lake Community College, Jordan Campus and our teacher was showing us some examples for our assignment that we were currently working on.  The teacher had us read an example written by a former student who had been part of the FLDS.  The essay talked about how she had a terrible education, was reassigned to a new father, and about following orders from their leader.  Later when she grew up, she decided to leave everything she had behind and go to school.  She went to the Salt Lake Community College and took this English class as her very first college class.  I couldn’t keep a copy of the essay because we had to turn them back in. 

After we read the essay the teacher said that every time she has taught, then she’s had at least one or two students who came from polygamous “cults” and she said that they all say the same thing.  She said that the girl’s essay couldn’t have said it better.  The teacher then said that all the polygamous sects are full of rapists and abusers and that any one who can leave one is better off.  

I felt very sad for the girl who wrote the essay and for what she had to go through in her life.  But, I was also offended by the teacher’s comments about the entire polygamous community.  The experience of the girl who wrote the essay is not the experience that I have had growing up in a plural family.  I don’t like my family being lumped in with the bad behavior of other people that are very different from anything I’ve experienced.  The teacher painted all polygamous groups with a broad brush and made us sound like bad people.  I’m not a bad person, and neither are my family members.  I’ve never been abused, I’ve had an excellent education and I have a very supportive family.  Like I mentioned above, I’m 16 years old and I’m one class away from completing a General Education certificate because I started taking concurrent college classes at the age of 14.  My parents have encouraged me to obtain a degree in the field of my choice.  Along with my family life, I’ve watched my mom serve in many influential and management positions in her professional career and two of my other moms own their own businesses.  I feel like I have all the opportunities I would ever want.

When the instructor said all these things, I wanted to say something in class, but I was afraid to because I felt like voicing my story would result in me receiving a low grade in the class and that my peers would not treat me fairly if I had a different opinion.  I have other friends who have been treated poorly for speaking out, or not fitting in with the narrative of their college professors.  I wish kids of plural families could be treated the same as everyone else instead of looked at like we are in a bad situation and need to escape.  There’s nothing for me to escape from.  I have a very good life and I can think for myself!  I don’t need the professor to tell people who I am before I have a chance to say it myself.  If the teacher had said something like that about gay people, or an ethnic minority group, she could be fired for saying it.  I hope teachers at SLCC can learn about the positive aspects of plural families and the individuals who come from them so their students don’t feel threatened like I felt.  However, there is no safe way to tell about our positive experiences without being threatened.  I don’t dare use my name in telling this experience and I feel like I have to hide who I am to do well in this class.  I’m not going to use the professor's name either, because that’s not what this is about.  It’s not my goal to get people in trouble, I just feel like they shouldn’t be spreading such horrible misinformation to all of their students.  

Now I feel that if my peers in the class don’t have any more information, for all I know, everyone now feels the same way as the teacher, that people from plural families are abusive, which is not true.  How many students have been brainwashed by this teacher?  How will those students treat people who choose this lifestyle?  She made it not ok to be who I am."

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