Reflective Structured Dialogue: Faculty in a Christian University Discuss LGBTQ+ Inclusion

Main Article Content

Helen Harris
Jeremy Counseller

Keywords

LGBTQ inclusion, congregations, colleges, faculty, Reflective Structured Dialogue

Abstract

The question of LGBTQ+ inclusion is a challenging one in a number of Christian denominations and extends beyond congregations to religiously affiliated higher education. Are LGBTQ+ students free to be open and “out” in their colleges and universities that are affiliated with religious groups, particularly those whose beliefs may include that sexual orientation and gender identity are spiritual matters of sin, repentance, and change? This is a particular challenge to social work faculty in accredited programs whose commitment to social justice and diversity is central to their mission. In one university affiliated with traditionalist, conservative denominational groups, the administration reached out to social work and law faculty to facilitate university faculty discussions about inclusion. Faculty met using Reflective Structured Dialog (RSD) in focus groups to examine faculty views about how best to provide both a loving and supportive educational environment to LGBTQ+ students and honor the university’s mission and affiliations. The process was essential to gather and value very divergent points of view without fracturing the faculty. The authors provide context and process as a model for other universities exploring difficult value laden conversations in Christian contexts.


 


 


 

Abstract 109 |

References

Baldock, Kathy. (2014). Walking the bridgeless canyon: Repairing the breach between the church and the LGBT community. Canyonwalker.

Bloomquist, Karen L. (1999). Talking together as Christians about tough social issues. Division for church in society of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Augsburg Fortress Publishers.

Chatham House. (2021) Chatham house rule. www. Chathamhouse.org/about-us/chatham-house-rule. Retrieved June 2, 2021

Chu, Jeff. (2013). Does Jesus really love me: A gay Christian’s pilgrimage in search of God in America. Harper Perennial.

Cole, C., and Harris, H. W. (2017). The lived experiences of people who identify as LGBT Christians. Social Work & Christianity 44: 31–52.

Collins, Travis. (2018). What does it mean to be welcoming?: Navigating LGBT questions in your church. InterVarsity Press.

Delgado, R. & Stefancic, J. (2017). Critical race theory. (3rd ed.). New York University Press.

deJong, Dirk H. (2020). Conservative Christianity, gender identity, and religious liberty: A primer and a proposal. Palgrove Macmillan.

Dessel, A. B. (2014). Bridging the conservative Christianity and sexual orientation divide: A review of intergroup dialogue pedagogy and practice. In Conservative Christian beliefs and sexual orientation in social work. Adrienne Dessel and Rebecca Bolen (Eds.). CSWE, pp. 313–44

DeTemple, J., & Sarrouf, J., (2017). Disruption, dialogue, and swerve: Reflective structured dialogue in religious studies classrooms. Teaching Theology and Religion 20: 283–92. https://doi.org/10.1111/teth.12398

Essential Partners. (2020). Step inside this house: A student exercise and worksheet. Essential Partners. https://whatisessential.org/sites/default/files/resource/file/2020-10/Step%20Inside%20This%20House.pdf.

Essential Partners. (2020). Race in America: A dialogue guide from Essential Partners. Essential Partners.

Essential Partners. (2016). Facilitator script-90 minutes. Essential Partners.

Fishburn, J. F. (Ed.). (2003). People of a compassionate God: Creating welcoming congregations. Abingdon Press.

Gaede, B. A.. (Ed.). (1998). Congregations talking about homosexuality: Dialogue on a difficult issue. Alban Institute.

Garland, D. E., and Garland, D. R. (2007). Flawed families of the Bible: How God’s grace works through imperfect relationships. Brazos Press

Gushee, D. P. (2017). Changing our mind. Read the Spirits Books

Harris, H., & Yancey, G. I. (2021a). The why and how of congregational discernment in LGBTQ+ inclusion: Models in the literature. Religions 12(1), 14. DOI 10.3390/rel12010014

Harris, H., Yancey, G. I., Dawson, K., & Gregory, J. (2021b). Congregational discernment in LGBTQ+ inclusion: Process lessons from 21 congregations. Religions 12(2). DOI 10.3390/rel12010025

Harris, H., Yancey, G. I., Dawson, K., & Gregory, J. (2021c). A way forward for discernment in congregations: LGBTQ+ inclusion discernment. Religions 12(3), DOI 10.3390/rel12030191

Human sexuality at Baylor. (2019). President Livingstone’s Message on Human Sexuality. August 27, 2019. https://www.baylor.edu/president/news.php?action=story&story=212249

Jones, R. P. (2020). White too long: The legacy of white supremacy in American Christianity. Simon and Schuster.

Kirkpatrick, F. G. 2008. The Episcopal Church in crisis: How sex, the bible, and authority are dividing the faithful. Praeger Press.

Lee, J. (2018). Talking across the divide: How to communicate with people you disagree with and maybe even change the world. TarcherPerigee.

McCollum, M. (2006). Respectully disagreeing: How dialogue works to transform conflict. Congregations, pp. 1-15.

McConkey, D. (2018). United Methodists divided: Understanding our differences over homosexuality. Global Parish Press.

Nouwen, H. (2013). Discernment: Reading the signs of daily life. HarperCollins and HarperOne.

Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high. (2nd ed.). McGraw Hill.

Pew Research Center. (2014). Political polarization in the American public: How increasing ideological uniformity and partisan antipathy affect politics, compromise and everyday life. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2014/06/12/political-polarization-in-the-american-public/

Polaski, L. M., & Eiland, M. (2013). Rightly dividing the word of truth: A Resource for congregations on sexual orientation and gender identity. Baptist Place Fellowship of North America.

Rock, D. (2008). SCARF: A brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others. NeuroLeadership JOURNAL: 1, pp. 1-9.
https://schoolguide.casel.org/uploads/sites/2/2018/12/SCARF-NeuroleadershipArticle.pdf.

Rogers, J. (2009). Jesus, the Bible, and homosexuality: Explode the myths, heal the church. (Revised 1st ed.). Westminster John Knox Press

Sarrouff, J. (2020). Essential Partners 30th Anniversary Gala Fundraiser & Founders Award Presentation. You Tube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paRwU-GKzac). Essential Partners

Shaffer, T. J. (2014). Deliberation in and through higher education. Journal of Public Deliberation 10 (1), 1-5.
https://www.academia.edu/7519441/Deliberation_In_and_Through_Higher_Education

Shaffer, T. J., Longo, N. V., Manosevitch, I., & Thomas, M. S. (Eds.). (2017). Deliberative pedagogy: Teaching and learning for democratic engagement. Michigan State University Press

Sheppard, M. & Mayo J. B., Jr. (2013). The social construction of gender and sexuality: Learning from two spirit traditions. The Social Studies, 104(6, 259-270. DOI: 10.1080/00377996.2013.788472

Stone, D., Patton, B., & Heen, S. (1999). Difficult conversations: How to discuss what matters most. Penguin Books

Tisby, J. (2019). The color of compromise. Zondervan

Wingfield, M. (2019). Why churches need to talk about sexuality: Lessons learned from hard conversations and bout sex, gender, identity, and the Bible. Fortress Press

Yarhouse, M. A., Dean, J. B., Stratton, S. P., & Lastoria, M. (2018). Listening to sexual minorities: A study of faith and sexual identity on Christian college campuses. InterVarsity Press