In a surprise move this afternoon, the LDS Church announced that women who still have children at home can now teach full-time as paid employees in the Church Education System. WOOT!
Until now, Mormon women have been ineligible to teach Institute, the Church’s worldwide program for college-age people, on a paid basis if they had children under the age of 18. Men were not bound by any such restriction regardless of the ages of their children.
So here are four things I’m excited about with today’s announcement.
1. The Church specifically acknowledged that women sometimes have to work outside the home: “While we continue to recognize that contribution that they make in their homes, we also recognize that sometimes their personal and family circumstances require them to work,” said the announcement. Recognizing a financial need for two-income families hardly seems a progressive statement in 2014, but it certainly hasn’t been common in official Mormon discourse.
2. The announcement made it clear that families are equipped to make these decisions for themselves. “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 memo as reported in the Tribune. Again, this language is a major move forward for the Church even if it seems antiquated to outsiders.
3. The women’s general auxiliary leaders were consulted in the decision. In the “it’s about freakin’ time” file, the Deseret News reports that the administrator in charge of the program “specifically sought their [the women’s] counsel and found that they were united in their feelings that this was the right thing to do.” Let’s hope that this signals greater participation by the Church’s female leaders in key decisions at the highest levels.
4. Divorce no longer has to be the scarlet “D.” Candidates who have been divorced will no longer be automatically disqualified from teaching full-time in the CES — if they get remarried. “Those who remarry after a divorce may be considered for employment,” according to the Deseret News. It doesn’t quite destigmatize divorce in the Mormon community (and it does nothing to help present employees who are losing not only their marriage but also their job if they get divorced), but it’s a small step forward.