Thank you for your feedback. I have finalized the report and sent it to my stake president. I am pleased to report that he has agreed to send it on to General Authorities. The original text of the post is below for historical purposes, but the final version, incorporating feedback I received from Exponent readers and others, is available at http://bit.ly/LDSpolicy2.
“The worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10) and modern day apostles have repeatedly affirmed that Church leaders value women.  Church policy instructs that in Ward Councils, “both men and women should feel that their comments are valued as full participants.” (Handbook 2: 4.6.1) Church policymakers could demonstrate that they value women in councils by ceasing to mandate that men outnumber and outrank women on councils in which women participate and including women on councils from which they are presently barred.
Including as many female speakers as male speakers in semi-annual General Conferences would better demonstrate that women are valued as “theologians”  than limiting female participation to one woman per day. Revising temple ceremonies to be as affirming for female participants as for men would go far to testify of women’s value in the eternities.
Mission goals that incentivize teaching and baptizing men instead of women are evidence that many mission leaders value male converts over female ones. As potential priesthood holders, male converts are valued because they are needed within the Church organization. Local leaders may see female souls as liabilities instead of assets because they cannot serve their congregations in the many callings and functions that are reserved by general level policy for men only. Church policy authorizes new church units to be established without any women at all, while no church unit may exist without men, regardless of how many faithful women are in the area.
Disparate excommunication policies for men and women suggest that the Church is cautious about terminating a valuable male membership but women are less valued. Women may be excommunicated with fewer human resources than men, at lower levels of church governance than men, and without anyone assigned to “stand up in behalf of the accused” (D&C 102) as is mandatory for males in an excommunication trial.
Value womanhood by accommodating—not policing—the gynecologic realities of womanhood that many women experience. Establish a lactation policy that prohibits local leaders from barring women from church activities for breastfeeding. Eliminate policies that govern reproduction and underwear. Prohibit men from asking women for details about their sex lives during interviews and disciplinary councils.
Eliminate detailed female dress and appearance guidelines for young women and rules that prioritize appearance over comfort and safety, such as by requiring sister missionaries to wear skirts even when biking. Such rules and guidelines demonstrate that female bodies are valued for the wrong reasons.
Policies that bar women from working in callings with men, carpooling with men or hosting missionaries without male chaperones suggest that women are feared as temptresses more than they are valued as moral human beings.
With few exceptions, church policy limits female presiding authority to groups of women or preadolescent children, while men preside over all demographics of church members. Men are rarely placed in a position in which they are obligated to submit to the preferences and ideas of a woman over their own, while women are consistently required to defer to men, establishing a pattern in which male opinions have greater value. Even the opinions of men not presently serving in leadership callings may carry more weight than those of women because of their greater experience and potential within the rotating lay clergy of the Church. Avoid a pattern of hierarchy in which men govern women but not vice versa.
 Quentin L. Cook, LDS Women Are Incredible!, 2011 https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/04/lds-women-are-incredible?lang=eng
D. Todd Christofferson, The Moral Force of Women, 2013 https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/the-moral-force-of-women?lang=eng
 Neil A. Maxwell, Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward, 1977.
 These policies differentiate between Melchizedek priesthood holders and other members. Virtually all men who have been active LDS church members for any portion of their adult lives are ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood. All women are banned from the Melchizedek priesthood. Hence, with a few exceptions, these polices discriminate solely on the basis of sex.
This post is a section of my draft policy analysis, a Values-based Approach to Woman-friendly Policy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have completed as much policy research as I can alone and now I am asking for feedback from the Mormon community before I finalize and submit the report. All draft sections will become available at the following links when they are posted:
|The Golden Rule|
|Protecting the Vulnerable|
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