The New York Times invited Mormon women to post their feedback about the status of women in the LDS Church in March 2014. Do Mormon church leaders show as much interest in the feedback of Mormon women as the Times?
The Church announced yesterday that it will no longer refuse to hire women with children under 18 or fire female seminary and institute teachers when they become mothers. “This change makes it possible for families to decide what best meets their needs as it relates to mothers working while raising children,” said the announcement. Reference A
Amen to that.
I am thrilled about this change because it will make a real difference in Mormon lives (unlike renaming Women’s Meeting to Women’s Session, which is a nominal change only, especially considering that men will continue to preside and give the keynote speech at the women’s session). I look forward to a future with more female scriptorian role models for our youth. Even for women without children, the knowledge that they would be fired if they ever had children was a big deterrent from seeking a seminary or institute job. It was also an obstacle preventing local managers from hiring women, even without children; who wants to hire someone they would most likely have to fire later? As a parent, I am relieved that I will not have to make a difficult decision to either enroll my children in a program that blatantly discriminates against female employees or forego the benefits of seminary instruction for my children. And as I mentioned in a recent Exponent post, the discriminatory seminary and institute policy was actually undermining teachings by current apostles who encourage more friendly attitudes toward working mothers. Reference B
In December 2011, I posted here at the Exponent about some life events that had helped me realize that I needed to seek gender equality within the Mormon faith, including how I learned about the church’s policy banning mothers with minor children from employment as seminary teachers.
Insignificant Events That Make A Mormon Feminist | The Exponent, December 2011
In the online conversation surrounding the post, I noticed that people who defended the church’s seminary program did not argue that firing women for having children was okay; they said that the Church has no such policy. It occurred to me that even more traditional church members would disapprove of this policy if they were made aware that it really exists.
I searched the Internet for documentation of the policy and found nothing.
Finally, I called my local Seminary and Institute Preservice Training Office and asked about the policy. They confirmed it, clarified it (although the clarification did not make it sound any less reprehensible) and admitted that they intentionally avoided disclosing the policy publicly. I suspect that they preferred to hide the policy because its discriminatory nature would bother church members and the general public. I documented the conversation, posted it here at the Exponent, and at last, the policy was available for others to read. I hoped that shining a light on the policy would lead to change.
LDS Church Educational System Employment Policies For Mothers | The Exponent, January 2012
There was a strong reaction to the posted interview. A healthy debate ensued about how to change the policy. In April 2012, a major media outlet