Series: #Visiblewomen: You Can’t Be What You Can’t See : Generous Quotes From Women in Relief Society Lessons
President Linda K. Burton
Relief Society General Office
76 North Main
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
Dear Sister Burton,
Would you please consider increased and generous quotes by women in Relief Society and Priesthood Manuals? As an educator, I know the importance of having relatable examples in the stories and quotes used to illustrate and teach a topic. As a learner attaches a teaching to one of their own experiences, long-term learning and profound change occurs.
Years ago in my teacher training program I was assigned to count examples of men and women and people of color in textbooks. The counting helped me to notice and reflect on who was likely to connect with the material of the text and who was likely to be left out of the experience of relating, connecting, and learning. Applying the same exercise to our Relief Society and Priesthood curriculum, voices of women are noticeably absent. I believe both women and men are harmed by the absence of women’s voices.
I remember two years of Relief Society after I left the Young Women’s program when it seemed every Relief Society lesson helped me to connect my experiences as a young adult to the legacy of LDS women who came before me. Then I went on a mission and when I came home we began utilizing the Presidents of the Church manuals. Quotes and examples of women became sparse, I liked Relief Society a little less but didn’t know why. For the past seventeen years, our Relief Society and Priesthood curriculum has lacked the wisdom, diversity, and incredible strength of LDS women.
As a Relief Society Instructor, Relief Society President, and Relief Society Secretary I’ve had the opportunity to repeatedly observe how women light up and share precious examples of the atonement working in their lives when quotes from women are included in our lessons. Men do too! My father has received a wonderful response from his High Priest Group as he has supplemented his lessons with material from Daughters of my Kingdom and examples of women from scriptures, General Conference, and our family.
This year as we study the life and teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, I have enjoyed my own independent reading on the remarkable Flora Benson. Sadly, no teacher has included her in a lesson thus far. Yet, President Benson was always quick to recognize the essential support of Flora and his children in all of his achievements.
Too many women and men are adversely impacted by worldly portrayals of women as objects. We need more examples of multidimensional women who have led good and meaningful lives. Please consider incorporating the words of more wise women in our Relief Society and Priesthood curriculum.