Hi, I’m Laura.
I am married with two amazing daughters whom I love fiercely. I was raised in the church by wonderful parents and have served as Relief Society president, Young Women’s president, Sunday School teacher, Relief Society teacher, choir pianist, Primary teacher, and as a ward-activity-committee member. Professionally, I conduct medical research to help alleviate symptoms of neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
I love my LDS faith; however, when I was a teenager it became evident that my opportunities as a female were very different than those of the males in my church. One Thursday evening, I arrived for a Young Women’s activity to find the young men in our ward gathered on the lawn of the church, packing for a multi-day backpacking trip through the Wind Rivers in Wyoming. As they scurried about, buzzing with giddy anticipation of their adventure, I walked inside the building and tried to be excited about toll-painting a wooden birdcage. The incident was far from isolated: The boys went mountain biking, night skiing, and attended career-preparation panel discussions while we had lessons on modesty, learned to create scrapbooking page layouts, and watched demonstrations of how to create scalloped edges on piecrusts. My Young Women leaders were wonderful, and I love them dearly. The gender discrepancy in opportunities was not their fault. When I asked if our Mia Maid class going skiing one year, I was told it wouldn’t be possible because of budget issues.
These disparities became more pronounced as I grew older. I was discouraged by church leaders from attending medical school or graduate school (fortunately, I have fantastic parents who cheered for me when I walked across the stage to receive my doctorate), several young men ended relationships with me because they were uncomfortable with my academic and career aspirations, and although I served in many leadership positions alongside excellent men, my ability to contribute to decisions for those I loved and served was limited because I did not hold the priesthood. I became more and more discouraged in the church.
When my first daughter was born, I spent many nights rocking my precious babe as I asked God all the questions new parents have. How can I best help her achieve her potential? How can I best help her feel her divine nature and great worth? One evening I looked at the softly sighing beauty sleeping in my arms and had deeply spiritual experience where I knew she was destined for many great things. I realized with great sorrow that I could not raise my daughter in the LDS Church in which I had so often felt marginalized unless and until momentous efforts were made to remove gender inequality at all levels.
I cannot ask my daughters to accept anything less than their full potential. Because I long for a community of worship for my family, I will continue asking difficult questions and agitating for positive change in the Church I love.
I believe that women should be ordained.