Recorded members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as Mormon or LDS) comprise over 70% of Utah's population. This qualitative study identifies the unique concerns and challenges that members of Utah's minority religions may face in public schools. Semi-structured interviews, designed to elicit rich, detailed information, were conducted with 48 participants (13 leaders, 17 parents, 18 students) from seven different minority religions in Utah. Each interview was audio taped, transcribed, and then analyzed using the qualitative analysis program N-Vivo. Looking at the school institutional treatment (laws, policy, teachers, administrators) of participants' religions, few expressed major concerns or challenges. Ignorant LDS favoritism and school accommodation of LDS Released-Time Seminary were issues most commonly expressed. In contrast to institutional treatment, social treatment of participants' religion in school received significantly more comment, and related concerns ran considerably deeper. Participants identified areas of occasional peer exclusion such as LDS cliques, Seminary, conversation, and dating. Participants further identified areas of occasional uncomfortable peer interaction such as LDS proselytizing, sense of superiority, and assumptions or stereotypes. Several participants cited LDS ignorance, cohesiveness, and their doctrine of one true church as general causes of this peer exclusion and uncomfortable interaction. Furthermore, the data suggests that the challenges mentioned by participants are enhanced in the higher LDS populated and more rural areas of Utah. The findings also suggest that the prevalence of such challenges have been decreasing over time. All participants identified some concerns or challenges they face as members of a minority religion in their Utah school communities. However, it appears most participants, with some clear exceptions, did not view treatment of their religion in Utah public schools as a major issue.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Educational Leadership and Foundations



Date Submitted


Document Type





education, religion, minority, Utah