#hearLDSwomen: Glaring Inequality Between Young Women and Young Men

The angriest I have ever seen our former Young Women president was after Ward Council one week. The previous year the Young Women & Young Men agreed to pool funds to buy nice camping gear with the express understanding that nothing Young Men or Scouting related would be scheduled during Girls’ Camp since that’s the only time the young women would need the equipment. As soon as she found out the Girls’ Camp dates from the stake, she brought that information to the Young Men president. “Oh, Girls’ Camp is that week? Man, I wish I had known. We scheduled High Adventure that week.” She went to the Bishop, but he sided with the YM president because they scheduled their event first. She pointed out that part of the joint purchase agreement was use of the equipment for the one week of Girls’ Camp and that she had to wait for the stake to assign dates. Didn’t matter.
– Beez


My mother has a twin brother, and my own brother is just a year older than me. All growing up, we each watched our brothers be publicly recognized for their “worthiness,” climb the priesthood ladder, enjoy thrilling church/scouting activities/campouts, and receive badge after badge for doing things girls are just as capable of but couldn’t get approved.
– Sarah A.


I was called to be the Young Women president several years ago. In Ward Council, each auxiliary president discussed the needs of their organization and were either given suggestions or offers of assistance to help them overcome the hurdles or problems they spoke about. Every time we met, I spoke out about how I was troubled about the message they were sending the girls (and the boys, frankly) that the boys were able to go white water rafting and rappelling and going to Rocky Point (yes!!!! Out of the country!!), and we were turned down time after time to go to Conference or even just out of the ward boundaries (except for Girls’ Camp). I was told we could have some “fine” activities at the ward building without having to drive anywhere out of the boundaries. Every Sunday, I would raise the subject, and every Sunday, they would cut me off after one minute and move to the brethren. After a month of this, I was “kindly” uninvited to Ward Council and told I caused too much tension by wanting to bend the rules, and the bishop would meet with me one on one. It’s a good thing this happened before I had my own girls because I just may have walked out of that office and never looked back. I wanted to quit the calling right there but I vowed that I would NEVER give up the fight and that I would, at every possible opportunity, let them know how wrong their horribly chauvinistic stances were and how irresponsible it was to give these young women the idea that this behavior was not only ok, but just “how it is” in the church. Ugh.
– Kelly C.


I was in a youth fireside meeting with my daughters, and a member of our stake presidency was speaking. He was trying to connect with the youth about feeling the Spirit and talked about a meeting he attended as a young LDS teen and about how the sacrament was being passed there. Up to that point, he was making a good point applicable to all. But then he pivoted to talk about how he felt being able to pass the sacrament to all the youth in attendance, and I realized that he had just left all the Young Women behind.

I mentioned this observation to him after the meeting, and to his credit, he recognized the error.
– Lori LeVar Pierce


A bishop told the Young Women president that all activities had to have a spiritual theme no matter what while the Scouts did whatever they wanted at the same time.
– Alisha Upwall


When I was Primary president, my daughter was the first person to reach age 12 and graduate out of Primary during my “reign.” I asked the bishop what we do for them. He said they don’t really get or do anything. Then a few months later, a boy turned 12. The bishop commented that we need to do something since this was such a momentous time for him! I was horrified. I couldn’t believe that he would totally discount the girls but make a big deal out of the boys!! Needless to say, nothing was done for him since nothing was done for my daughter.
– Lori


Pro Tip: Carefully examine the programs for youth in your ward and see what you can do to make them more equitable. Imagine that the Young Women have the budget, opportunities, and activities that the Young Men have had, and vice versa. Do things still seem fair? Constantly evaluate and strive for parity and great opportunities for all youth whenever possible.

Click here to read all of the stories in our #hearLDSwomen series. Has anything like this happened to you? Please share in the comments or submit your experience(s) to participate in the series.

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)


  1. This inequality also has long term consequences. I was a YW leader, but I was deeply uncomfortable organizing a camping/rafting/adventure activity because, in fact, I know very little about those things. There were other hurdles too (all the other leaders had small babies, how do we find priesthood holders to come when all those husbands needed to be watching other children overnight etc. etc.). I did learn some basic fire/tent skills growing up, but I imagine if it had been a monthly thing I would have been a lot more comfortable trying to teach or lead girls in those skills. By depriving young women of those opportunities we’re setting up generation after generation of future leaders who may also lack those skills. Yes, there are other places and ways to teach it, but YM leaders have years of memories to draw on when planning and implementing outdoor activities that generally YW leaders do not.

  2. I had a similar experience with girls high adventure in my ward/stake- the blatant inequality between what we could do, and the reasons the leaders were against it surprised even my own scoutmaster father.
    He tried to calm my and his own troubled heart by straightforwardly inviting me to pray for confirmation of the leaders calling and authority. I tried for years but that seed was planted and eventually I saw the patriarchy for what it was, lost faith in “the church” and have left. Not exactly what he hoped for, but lesson learned – thanks Dad.

    • Risa – Do you want me to agree with you or disagree with you? I never said there is no inequality. Perhaps you should contemplate my point of view before jumping to conclusions and attacks. Of course there is inequality. Each of the stories above are terrible, and good examples of gender stereotypes, bias, and discrimination in the church and with priesthood leaders. These stories need to be told so leaders and members raise awareness and consciousness of the damaging effects on women and young women. Why would you conclude on my opinion here based on honest disagreements from other posts? Never in any other post did I claim there is no inequality. We might have disagreed on some finer points, or specific practices, or specific perceptions of practices or policies, but I don’t know why you have to make personal attacks just because we have different perspectives. You are passionate about your beliefs, great. I am not angry with you. I am just trying to share together.
      Violadiva – I have noticed you reprimand numerous people for violation of the comment policies yet time and time again Risa has been snarky and nasty with personal attacks. Perhaps her angry-feminist tone allows her latitude. If you all just want an echo chamber then I can bow out. I am not here to troll or offend. I am here to learn, and I have learned much over the past 5+ years. I realize I bring a different perspective, but I don’t think I have been inappropriate. I am not offended by Risa’s comments, I have thick skin. But in a blog with so much emphasis on equality and respecting people, I think a little consistency in treatment is called for.

      • Probably because this blog and magazine was created for women to have a voice in a church that often leaves them voiceless. Not for men to come in and tell them they’re wrong about their own lived experiences, shrug.

        Also, my comment isn’t an attack, it’s a characterization of your comments over the last 5 years.

  3. I was lucky growing up in a ward where the Bishop was really invested in the youth. All of the youth over 14 went on river rafting trips (which I loved). The YW went to great boy scout camps for Girl’s camp where we had the same experiences as the boys did.

    How sad that it depends on the Bishop in each ward whether the YW get the same opportunities as boys and how sad that we (in general) keep proclaiming there is no gender inequality in the church.

  4. I have so much hope for the new programs coming next year. I have always felt that if YW looked a little more like YM and YM looked a little bit more like YW, everyone would benefit. The boys may get the majority of the awesome adventures that teach us we can do hard things, but it’s the girls who are taught about values like divine nature and integrity that I know influenced me for good when I was a teen (Virtue can disappear and I won’t be sorry for it!). I hope we’ll see a very rich amalgam of the best of all our previous programs. I have so much hope and I have so much fear because I don’t want to feel disappointed if it turns out not much has changed at all in the new programs.

  5. We’ve been trying to do more adventures with the YW in my ward. The bishop is extremely supportive, and even pushes us a bit more than I’m inclined to do, but there are hurdles. The biggest one is that every overnight activity must have an “adequate” number of priesthood holders present. Technically this same requirement applies to YM/scouts, but scout leaders are nearly always priesthood holders, so that one’s in the bag for them. For our small group we only need two men, but all the men in our ward are very busy and hard to coordinate with. And the separate facilities needed for them nearly doubles the cost of any activity we try.
    The other thing is parents. They’re burned out by scouts, and don’t see the value in similar activities for their daughters. So they don’t want monthly campouts, or out of state trips. We start to plan them, and they push back.

    • The “adequate” number of priesthood holders was zero for a week long canoeing trip that I went on as a teenager. That was the best YW activity ever, and no one had a problem with it being only females. I wish this could happen in every stake.

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